Posted on Thursday 7 January 2016 by Ulster Business

Ryanair returns with new belfast base

David O’Brien from Ryanair announces the Belfast return

By David Elliott

Five years after pulling its Belfast service, Ryanair is adding the city to its list of destinations, but from a different base.

The budget airline plans to establish itself at Belfast International Airport, initially with one aircraft and a four-times daily Gatwick service from March.

In October it will base two other aircraft at the airport and add five more destinations, routes which it won’t yet reveal but which are widely expected to include at least one German city.

The catalyst for the move was the freeing up of Gatwick slots by Aer Lingus, part of the competition deal agreed as part of its takeover by International Airlines Group.

Graham Keddie, MD of Belfast International Airport, said the move is a boon for Belfast International and for Northern Ireland.

“This very positive news is the equivalent of a major inward investment without the strain on public finances,” he said. “It will deliver thousands of new visitors and hundreds of welcome new jobs. Despite the damaging Air Passenger Duty (APD), this announcement shows Belfast International can defy the odds. Just imagine what we could achieve if the ‘yoke’ of APD were removed (as it has been in the Republic of Ireland)?”

David O’Brien from Ryanair said he was pleased to be going back to an airport the airline’s founder once referred to as “Lough Neagh International”.

Then, Ryanair was operating five UK services from Belfast City Airport but pulled out when it didn’t look likely a proposed runway extension would get the green light, a factor which limited the distance its aircraft could fly.

Mr O’Brien said the Ryanair’s return would see $3m (£2m) invested here once full services are up and running and would result in one million annual passengers and “support” 750 jobs.

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