Posted on Thursday 23 September 2010 by Ulster Business

Mike Rutter from Flybe announces the new routes with Katy Best and Tourism Minister Arlene Foster

UK airline Flybe has announced that from the end of October it will fly 100 new flights per week from George Best Belfast City Airport.

The airline is to introduce new services to Bristol, East Midlands and Liverpool, bringing its total number of routes offered from Belfast to 17. It will also mean two additional aircraft will be based at the airport, which Flybe said could potentially create 250 indirect jobs in addition to the 215 directly employed by Flybe in Belfast. Flybe’s decision to increase its schedule followed hard on the heels of Irish budget carrier Ryanair’s decision to pull out of the City Airport due to delays in resolving the airport’s application to extend its runway. The application has been tied up in planning for more than two years and a public inquiry into the proposal that had been due at the end of October has been delayed again. Ryanair’s controversial boss Michael O’Leary blasted politicians for failing to make a swift decision on the runway extension. Ryanair had since 2007 been operating five routes from City Airport – to Bristol, East Midlands, Prestwick, Liverpool and Stansted. Mike Rutter, Flybe’s Chief Commercial Officer said of its new services: “We are delighted to be able to introduce these three crucial routes following last week’s announcement by Ryanair to cease operations from Belfast City Airport and with it, services to Liverpool, Bristol and East Midlands. “Flybe recognises that for a country such as Northern Ireland which depends so much on airlinks for its economic, social and tourism well-being that reliability and dependability are key factors towards growth and development. In announcing these additional routes today we are further underlining our longterm investment and commitment to George Best Belfast City Airport and Northern Ireland.” Welcoming the announcement Tourism Minister Arlene Foster said: “I congratulate the Airport operator for acting quickly to fill these routes, which were vacated by Ryanair. Flybe is an airline that has shown long-term commitment to Northern Ireland and today’s announcement confirms their continued investment here. “The development of direct, convenient and competitive access services is critical to achieving tourism growth and strategic targets.” Katy Best, Business Development Director at George Best Belfast City Airport added: “We knew there was significant demand for the routes vacated and we’re pleased to finalise an agreement with Flybe on three routes. Flybe is a long term partner and recognises our significant and continuing investment at the airport to provide world class facilities for passengers.”

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