Belfast growth to continue despite profit slump: Easyjet
Budget airline easyJet - the biggest airline flying from Belfast International - has said its operations here will not be affected by plans to overhaul the group after a nosedive in profits.
The group posted a 27.9% tumble in pre-tax profits to £495m for the year to September 30, from £686m a year earlier, after the plunging pound cost it £88m and it suffered a hit of around £150m from "unprecedented" events.
EasyJet's results came as Aer Lingus announced a new flight from Dublin to Miami from September.
It's also adding two new flights to Porto in Portugal and Split in Croatia - a destination already served by easyJet in Belfast.
EasyJet said it was planning a group-wide review over the next year to make it a "simpler, more efficient" company and to deliver "meaningful" savings.
But Sophie Dekker, UK country director at easyJet, said operations from Belfast International, where it flies to 28 destinations, would not be cut. "It won't make any difference to our plans for the UK and it won't mean reductions in allocations to the UK.
"We flew 4.05 million passengers through Belfast over the last year and expect to carry about 4.17 million in the coming year, so there is growth in Belfast."
New routes from International include Lyon and Lanzarote - and she said that flights to Barcelona would be brought forward next year to begin in February instead of later in the spring.
She said the company ran 15 one-way flights to London each day and remained committed to a route from Heathrow to Belfast International when the expansion of the London hub goes ahead.
While the company had been hit by a fall in sterling, Ms Dekker said it would not make a tangible difference to customers.
And referring to Ryanair, she said the company would not take investment from the UK in favour of continental Europe, unlike recent plans from the Irish carrier.
"Because we report in pounds we don't have a disincentive to take revenue in pounds though other airlines would rather grow where they pay revenue in euros.
"Passengers shouldn't see a difference in air fares but they will notice the weakness of the pound when they get to their destinations."
EasyJet is also setting up a new company in mainland Europe and applying for a new licence so that it could continue to fly freely in Europe following Brexit.
It said more details of its review would be given over the course of the year.