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Executive lifeline of £7.8m wings its way to two NI airports

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Struggling: The hit to air travel caused by the global health crisis is being felt at Belfast City Airport

Struggling: The hit to air travel caused by the global health crisis is being felt at Belfast City Airport

Struggling: The hit to air travel caused by the global health crisis is being felt at Belfast City Airport

Belfast International Airport has said its share of a £7.8m lifeline from the Executive will help secure jobs across its site.

Finance Minister Conor Murphy announced the support for Belfast International and Belfast City Airport - which is on top of one year of rates relief which the airports and City of Derry Airport have already received. Support to City of Derry Airport of £1.23m was announced last month.

The airports have been hit financially as planes were grounded and demand from passengers fell dramatically as a result of global lockdowns to deal with the spread of Covid-19.

The Minister said: "The aviation sector has been severely impacted by Covid-19. Our airports and airlines have seen an unprecedented drop in demand with passenger numbers not expected to return to pre-Covid levels in the short-term.

"The pandemic has led to dramatically scaled back operations, reduced operating hours and significant financial losses.

"Airports and airlines are a critical part of our economic structure and it is vital they are supported to ensure connectivity for citizens and freight is maintained.

"This support package builds on the recent allocation of £1.23m to City of Derry Airport and the £3.1m financial package provided to airports in May."

Earlier this year Belfast International's managing director Graham Keddie said that it was costing £60,000 a day to keep the airport open.

Last month it announced it would close for a few hours on days in November when it had no commercial flights.

But Mr Keddie said that the new financial support was "a much needed lifeline that will help ensure we remain open 24/7 and can continue to keep Northern Ireland connected".

"Covid has had a devastating impact on our sector and this announcement will help secure jobs across our site.

"It will also enable us to continue to provide cover and support for all medical emergency flights, the Royal Mail, cargo operations for all online purchases as well as facilitating all PSNI and MoD flights.

"We would especially like to thank both Conor Murphy and Diane Dodds for their tireless efforts in securing this funding as well as the Executive for delivering it."

The funding is to cover the airports between September this year and March next year but is conditional on them not returning to profitability.

The three airports' 12-month rates holiday amounted to support of £2.7m.

Belfast Telegraph


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