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Ryanair to resume seven Belfast routes in summer despite Hancock warning

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Grounded Ryanair planes

Grounded Ryanair planes

AFP via Getty Images

Health Secretary Matt Hancock

Health Secretary Matt Hancock

AFP via Getty Images

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Grounded Ryanair planes

Low-cost airline Ryanair is planning to resume seven routes from Belfast International Airport in July.

The company yesterday announced a plan to restore 40% of its overall flight schedule from July 1.

Ryanair said the measure is subject to Government restrictions on flights within the EU being lifted and "effective public health measures" at airports.

However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock struck a note of caution, warning that people are unlikely to be able to go on foreign holidays this summer.

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Asked whether "summer was cancelled", Mr Hancock told ITV's This Morning: "I think that's likely to be the case."

He added: "It is unlikely that big, lavish international holidays are going to be possible for this summer. I just think that's a reality of life."

Ryanair hopes to operate nearly 1,000 flights per day from July 1, subject to conditions, including some from here.

According to its website, in July it is scheduled to fly from Belfast International to the Polish cities of Gdansk, Krakow and Warsaw.

However, it does not appear to be possible to book for the routes beyond July.

Ryanair is also due to fly from Belfast to Malaga in Spain in July and beyond, as well as London Stansted and Manchester.

And there are flights available to book to Milan Bergamo in Italy in July, before they stop until ski season begins at the end of December.

It is also reviving a route to Alicante in Spain from the end of October, with a once-a-week link thereafter.

Both the airline and Belfast International Airport did not respond to a request for comment.

In December it emerged that Ryanair had cancelled planned flights from Belfast to Alicante from April this year. At the time it was attributed to delays in the delivery of new Boeing 737 Max jets, with the carrier scaling back summer capacity as a result.

Ryanair formerly operated 14 routes out of Belfast before first dropping Faro in Portugal and Barcelona Girona from its 2018 winter schedule.

Ryanair's new schedule will involve nearly 1,000 flights per day being operated and 90% of its pre-Covid-19 route network being restored.

Crew and passengers will be required to wear face masks or face coverings, and pass temperature checks.

Queuing for toilets will be banned, but "toilet access will be made available to individual passengers upon request", according to the airline. Refreshments available to buy on board will be limited to pre-packaged items, and sales will be cashless.

Ryanair said all surfaces in its cabins will be disinfected every night with chemicals that are effective for more than 24 hours.

Meanwhile, easyJet, the main operator out of Belfast International, said it hoped to be flying this summer but did not have a date for resuming operations.

A spokeswoman added: "In the meantime we are maintaining our full fleet of aircraft in a flight ready condition and putting accelerated procedures in place to ensure flights can resume quickly and safely."

The only passenger flights from Northern Ireland at the moment are links from City of Derry Airport and Belfast City Airport to London.


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