Budget airline Ryanair will return to Belfast next summer with a host of new regular routes as part of what it says is a £166m investment.
The airline, which stopped flights from here last year amid lockdown and the pandemic, is reopening its base at Belfast International Airport with 12 routes. It will base two aircraft here.
The routes include Alicante, Faro, Barcelona-Girona, Malaga, Manchester, Milan-Bergamo and Stansted, with around 115 flights each week.
Ryanair’s new summer links will take off in summer 2023. The airline says 60 “highly paid aviation jobs” will be created at Belfast International Airport and “over 750 indirect jobs”.
It says it has also launched seat sale with fares available from £19.99 which must be booked by the end of July 2022 for travel from April – June 2023.
“At a time when other airlines are cutting their schedules and reducing their workforce, we are delighted to announce a new Ryanair base at Belfast International Airport with 12 exciting routes and two based aircraft representing an investment of $200m at Belfast International and the creation of over 800 direct/indirect jobs,” Jason McGuinness, Ryanair’s director of commercial, says.
“We are delighted to have reached a long-term agreement with Belfast International’s management, which will underpin future Ryanair growth at the Airport over the coming years.
“The announcement, particularly our decision to launch close to 80 weekly domestic flights to/from East-Midlands, Edinburgh, London-Stansted and Manchester demonstrates that lower aviation taxes and competitive airport charges are the catalyst for long-term traffic growth and increased connectivity.
“To enable additional investment from Ryanair (and other airlines) from next summer onward, the UK Government must immediately scrap aviation taxes for all flights, otherwise it will put the UK (an island-based economy) at risk of losing air traffic to competing European countries.
“After two difficult years for tourism, Ryanair’s return to Belfast International will allow holidaymakers to plan their Summer 2023 getaways to sunshine locations such as Alicante, Barcelona-Girona, Faro and Malaga early to ensure the lowest possible fares.
“Ryanair also looks forward to further connecting Belfast International to key cities such as Edinburgh, London-Stansted, Manchester, Milan-Bergamo and Paris-Beauvais.”
Belfast International Airport’s chief financial officer, Dan Owens, said: “The airport plays a pivotal role and is a key asset in aviation and tourism recovery after a challenging couple of years. This is a significant investment, bringing job creation and positive news for our passengers and the region. It increases the number of destinations now available from the airport to over 70 domestic and international destinations, offering more choice than ever for travellers.
“The new base at Belfast International reflects VINCI Airports’ commitment to Northern Ireland. Improving connectivity for the region is key for the aviation sector and economic growth. VINCI Airports and Ryanair have a strong partnership and Belfast now brings the total of bases across our European network to six.”