Belfast Telegraph

Delighted BA boss is committed to flying out of Belfast

By Clare Weir

British Airways is committed to Northern Ireland, according to the manager of its operations here.

The airline relaunched services between Northern Ireland and London Heathrow in July after an 11-year gap.

BA took over the route from BMI at George Best Belfast City Airport following the acquisition of its competitor.

Visiting Belfast this week, BA's Ireland manager Simon Daly said that the company vacated Belfast International Airport 10 years ago in a different economic climate and added that the takeover of BMI provided the ideal opportunity for a return.

"We always wanted to come back to Belfast and reinstate the service to Heathrow and the BMI situation made that possible," he said.

"Northern Ireland is a different place economically and socially that it was when we left.

"The incoming traffic has increased, more people want to visit Belfast - both as tourists with the Titanic phenomenon and business people doing trade with firms which are increasingly looking outside the United Kingdom for opportunities.

"In terms of flying to and from the City as opposed to the International, looking at the business case, for both business and leisure travellers it is an ideal location, just five minutes away from the city centre.

"For outbound passengers we provide multiple onward connections from Heathrow both through BA and our code shares. With BA operating from Belfast and Dublin we also offer the opportunity to fly in and out of the Ireland through different airports."

Last month it was also announced that Aer Lingus is planning to move to George Best Belfast City Airport in the autumn after five years at Belfast International.

The Irish carrier will base two aircraft at the City Airport during the winter and three during the summer as of October.

"We operate both as rivals to Aer Lingus and as partners through a code share and we see no problem with running side by side at Belfast City Airport," Mr Daly said.

"Price is a big issue and we see that we provide added value in terms of onboard facilities, our baggage allowance and our all-inclusive price.

"And having multiple flights to Heathrow and Gatwick from City can only be good for consumers," he added.