Belfast Telegraph

O'Leary confident Ryanair Belfast to Berlin, Krakow, Malaga and Tenerife routes will take off

By John Mulgrew

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary says he is feeling positive about the success of the airline's eight new routes flying from Belfast.

The budget carrier will begin the bulk of the services in late 2016 from Belfast International Airport, and more could follow in the future.

The routes include Berlin and Krakow, alongside popular sun destinations such as Malaga and Tenerife.

Ryanair will also operate five flights a day to London Gatwick.

Mr O'Leary yesterday called on Stormont to do more to help airlines.

He also came out against the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, claiming there was no upside to a Brexit.

He said he was confident Ryanair would see a million passengers passing through Belfast International.

"I hope later in the year we will be returning and announce that a fourth aircraft will be based here and some more exciting routes to announce as well," he added.

Mr O'Leary said he was plugging Belfast's "premier" airport.

Ryanair used to operate from George Best Belfast City, but pulled out in 2010.

And he added Ryanair's low-cost flights, starting at £19.99 each way, will ensure the airline remains a success.

Asked about ticket costs, he said the average price to destinations such as Berlin - a route once serviced by easyJet - could be around £25 each way.

Ryanair is investing £200m in three new planes and is creating 750 jobs. The Belfast hub will begin its Gatwick flights later this month.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr O'Leary said: "It's great coming back up, coming back to Aldergrove, where we don't have a runway restriction."

He said there was no bad blood between the airline and Belfast City after it withdrew services due to runway extension delays.

If Belfast City did push ahead with a runway extension - something it has said is off the cards at the moment - Ryanair could return and fly into both airports.

Speaking about a Brexit, Mr O'Leary said big firms could invest elsewhere if the UK votes to leave the EU. "We, as a big investor in the UK economy, will invest less. Other big firms who want to invest in the EU will not invest in the UK. They will put those investments into the Republic," he said.

He added that the scrapping of air passenger duty was "the only way forward".

He also wants the Assembly to do more in order to help create more routes and attract more carriers. "I think Stormont could do more to support its airports," he said. "Stormont is great for talking about stimulating tourism, but when push comes to shove and the airports are looking for some support for new routes that aren't serviced - Milan and Berlin - they got nothing from Stormont."

Graham Keddie, managing director of Belfast International Airport, said the new routes would "provide direct access to Northern Ireland, drive up tourism numbers, increase Northern Ireland's international appeal and lead to many hundreds of new jobs".

He added: "Five routes have become seven, with Berlin and Milan topping the list. To say we're delighted with this expansion would be an understatement."

The new routes

Alicante (three flights a week)

Berlin (three flights a week)

Krakow (three flights a week)

Lanzarote (two flights a week)

Malaga (four flights a week)

Milan (two flights a week)

Tenerife (two flights a week)

Gatwick (five flights a day)

Belfast Telegraph