Aer Lingus switch to City Airport likely

The flights could be moved to Belfast City Airport within weeks.

A formal announcement from Aer Lingus on speculation it will switch its operations from Belfast International Airport to George Best Belfast City Airport is expected next week.

Friday, 15 June 2012
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According to reports, the Irish airline could make the move within weeks following the withdrawal of bmi baby's services, which carried 400,000 passengers a year.

Aer Lingus currently flies to Heathrow and seven European destinations - Alicante, Barcelona, Faro, Lanzarote, Las Palmas, Malaga and Tenerife - from Belfast International Airport.

The change would make George Best Airport the city's only Heathrow connection.

With the takeover of BMI by British Airways, there had been worries over the future of that route - but BA has confirmed its commitment to the service.

A spokesman for George Best Belfast City Airport said: "Following the announcement of the departure of bmibaby, we stated that we were confident that we would attract new airlines to Belfast City.

"This position has not changed and we expect to make several announcements in the coming weeks.

"We are certainly not in a position to comment on speculation regarding specific airlines at this stage."

On Thursday, Northern Ireland's aviation industry was criticised by pilots who told MPs that it was not sustainable to have two airports just 14 miles apart.

In a statement, the British Air Line Pilots' Association (BALPA) said: "The issue of air transport to and from Northern Ireland should not be left to the market alone and should be a matter of public policy.

"The policy should balance the sometime competing demands of consumer choice, efficiency, the best use of public investment in infrastructure and safety."

With 96% of pilots based in NI telling BALPA they are "concerned" about the future of air transport in the region, Belfast International Airport's Uel Hoey agreed airports in NI "aren't faring particularly well".