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Belfast International Airport open for passengers but monitoring 'unprecedented' health crisis

Belfast International Airport has said it is monitoring the coronavirus pandemic but remains "fully operational" for people who need to fly.

Travel restrictions and a slump in demand have already seen airlines ground thousands of flights, with many firms also temporarily laying off a large number of staff.

EasyJet said on Monday that flight cancellations would continue on a rolling basis "for the foreseeable future" and could result in the grounding of the majority of its fleet.

Graham Keddie (right), the managing director of Belfast International, said the airport was constantly reviewing the situation.

"These are unprecedented times, with much uncertainty and fluidity, especially in relation to air travel.

"Although we are moving to lower capacity, the airport remains fully operational for passengers who need to travel.

"It is likely that these routes may be subject to change in the coming days and weeks.

"We would ask all passengers to keep reviewing the latest news from their airlines.

"As Northern Ireland's main airport, we are also open for cargo flights for the arrival of goods, along with mail delivery, and we act as the main route for medical emergencies. We anticipate there will be further changes in the time to come and will keep all passengers and stakeholders updated with all relevant developments."

Mr Keddie also urged anyone with "even the mildest symptoms" to follow advice and stay away from the airport.

"It is vital that Northern Ireland has an operational airport. Our top priority is all who pass through the airport," he said.

Mr Keddie's statement came as City of Derry Airport welcomed an announcement by Chancellor Rishi Sunak that support would be made available for airports and the aviation industry.

The announcement came after union bosses called on the Government to intervene and save thousands of jobs.

City of Derry Airport said there had already been a "sharp reduction in passenger flow, which will have a severe and immediate financial effect". A spokesman continued: "The vital regional connectivity is an economic lifeline for the north-west.

"The contribution to regional growth plans we provide is already well-recognised across the Assembly.

"We look forward to meeting the relevant ministers and officials in the coming days to discuss immediate actions to protect this vital lifeline for so many."

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