Posted on Thursday 21 June 2012 by Ulster Business

Airport katy

A planning clause relating to wasteland within the grounds of George Best Belfast City Airport is standing in the way of up to 350 jobs, the airport has claimed.

The derelict land, which housed the old terminal building, has a planning restriction attached which limits the number of seats the airport can sell from the airport to two million per year.

A public consultation is currently under way as the airport seeks the removal of the seats for sale limit. It has proposed the limit is replaced with a noise control cap which will protect local residents by controlling the size and number of aircraft – something GBBCA says would be a first within Northern Ireland.

The public consultation into the modification to planning agreement ends on 30 June and following an Examination in Public later this year the Environment Minister will then make a decision before the end of 2012.

Katy Best, Commercial and Marketing Director at George Best Belfast City Airport said: “Currently the airport can only offer for sale 2 million seats from the airport in any 12 month period.

“Legally we can operate 48,000 flights per year (in 2011, the airport facilitated 42,000 flights) but can’t fly this number due an out-dated restriction which relates to a terminal building vacated in 2001 and long since demolished.

“Almost 50% of our 2.3 million passengers last year were visitors. If the seats for sale limit was removed 350 jobs could be created onsite at the airport and indirectly in the tourism industry delivering £22.4m of economic growth for the region.”

The figures are contained in a research report titled Economic Impact of Future Growth at George Best Belfast City Airport, which was carried out this year by York Aviation.

Opponents to the removal of the Seats for Sale restriction have argued that any increase in flight numbers or frequency would increase noise and have an adverse affect on the lives of residents in East Belfast.

Katy Best said the airport had only received 41 complaints in 2011 and had worked hard to deliver on noise and build a good relationship with the local community.

“Now following a significant investment we are now volunteering a noise control cap to protect them further,” she said.

“We want to assure the local community that any future development at the airport can be maintained within the planning agreement cap of 48,000 flights.
“The noise contour cap will limit the size and number of aircraft and will be enforceable by the Department of Environment.

“We are not seeking a change to our operating hours and the majority of flights will continue to arrive and depart over Belfast Lough.”

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