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EasyJet will restart some Belfast routes in June... but you must wear masks

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Belfast International Airport managing director Graham Keddie praised the announcement by easyJet

Belfast International Airport managing director Graham Keddie praised the announcement by easyJet

Belfast International Airport managing director Graham Keddie praised the announcement by easyJet

EasyJet has announced that it will resume flights including some routes from Belfast International Airport on June 15.

Passengers, who will be required to wear masks, will be able to fly from Belfast to Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Gatwick, Liverpool and Newcastle.

The announcement marks a slow return of air capacity after the cessation of all passenger links except London as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Belfast Telegraph revealed earlier this month that low-budget Ryanair is planning on flying on seven routes from Belfast International from July, including some European routes.

EasyJet said: "A small number of flights will restart on routes where we believe there is sufficient customer demand to support profitable flying.

"The initial schedule will comprise mainly domestic flying in the UK and France. Further routes will be announced in coming weeks as customer demand increases and lockdown measures across Europe are relaxed."

Welcoming the announcement, Belfast International Airport managing director Graham Keddie said: "EasyJet has informed us of its intention to recommence passenger flights from Belfast International Airport to destinations across the rest of the UK on June 15.

"As Northern Ireland and the UK's largest airline, it is a welcome and reassuring sign that easyJet remains committed to its local routes and keeping Northern Ireland open and connected for business.

"We will be ready to accommodate these flights and our teams have been working round the clock to ensure that all measures will be in place to ensure the safety and well-being of all those who pass through the airport.

"Public safety is and must be the number one priority at all times and we will be working very closely with easyJet and the other operators who plan to commence operations soon to ensure we are all in a position to safely allow passengers back into the airport."

Mr Keddie told the Belfast Telegraph the airport was ready for passengers in a new era of social distancing. "It's all marked out, with a one-way route in, and a one-way route out. It's all good to go," he added.

Since lockdown, air travel from Northern Ireland has been limited to Aer Lingus flights between Belfast City Airport and London Heathrow, and a Loganair link between City of Derry Airport (CODA) and London Stansted Airport.

Other routes to Great Britain from CODA remain suspended, as do other routes from Belfast City Airport. The airport lost around 14 links to Great Britain following the collapse of regional airline Flybe in March.

The City Airport's only international flight is to Amsterdam. Its operator, KLM, did not respond to a query regarding when it might start again.

And only cargo flights have been landing overnight at Belfast International Airport since lockdown.

Earlier this month funding of £5.7m was announced for the Stansted and Heathrow routes as "lifeline services" between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, to ensure they are not cut following collapse in demand caused by Covid-19.

The package is being funded by the government and the Northern Ireland Executive.

Aer Lingus was forced to add another flight to its route to Heathrow from Belfast after a large number of passengers using a Monday morning flight left it impossible to maintain social distancing.

Belfast City Airport boss Brian Ambrose has said the airport is losing hundreds of thousands of pounds a month with its other flights grounded and revenue streams, such as coffee shops, also closed off.

Graham Keddie of Belfast International Airport has said it is facing daily losses of £60,000. CODA has been loss-making for some time and is owned by Derry City and Strabane Council.

Belfast Telegraph