Ryanair blames UK air tax as four winter routes axed from Belfast International Airport
Ryanair has blamed air passenger duty (APD) and a weak market in the UK for pulling four winter routes from Belfast International.
The budget airline has said it will not run flights to three Polish destinations this winter, with Malta also being cut from the schedule.
Flights to London Stansted and Manchester are also being reduced.
The announcement came as Ryanair confirmed just nine routes from Belfast International Airport for its 2019 winter schedule.
In a statement yesterday, the Irish air carrier said: "Ryanair's routes to Gdansk, Malta, Warsaw Modlin and Wroclaw will not operate this winter, while our services to London Stansted and Manchester will reduce from three and two times daily, to twice weekly services, due to the weak UK market, and UK air passenger duty, which is currently payable at both airports on domestic routes (£26)."
Asked whether the routes will return next year, Ryanair said that it will not confirm its summer 2020 plans until the autumn.
Reacting to the development, Belfast International Airport said: "We are disappointed in the reduction of service, but fully understand the reasons for Ryanair's decision to reduce their Northern Ireland network. The airline can make a greater commercial return across the breadth of their European network where they don't have the taxation disadvantage posed by APD.
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"We have extensively highlighted the problem which APD in Northern Ireland creates for air service development and job creation, so far with very limited success.
"We will continue to fight for the abolition of APD and trust that those with decision making powers will act with the necessary urgency to make the changes required to maintain and develop an effective air travel sector in Northern Ireland."