Northern Ireland

Reaction to Ryanair's announcement

Low-cost airline Ryanair has announced it is to cease services from George Best Belfast City Airport from 31 October 2010.

Below is some of the reaction to the move.

Katy Best, Business Development Director at George Best Belfast City Airport

"We are obviously disappointed at Ryanair's decision; the airline had provided five successful routes from Belfast City Airport.

"However, passenger figures had proved that there was significant demand for the routes operated by Ryanair and I am confident that we can attract other airlines to fill the void.

"Recent significant and continuing private investment by the airport's owner has made Belfast City Airport an attractive proposition for passengers and airlines alike.

"Ryanair's announcement will not divert us in pursuing the continued development of the airport. Our goal still remains to attract new airlines and new destinations to and from Belfast City Airport resulting in a much needed economic boost for the region."

Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive Tourism Ireland

"Direct, convenient and competitive access services are critical to achieving a return to growth in inbound tourism.

"Tourism Ireland will continue its cooperative marketing efforts with the other carriers into Northern Ireland from the British market to help stimulate demand for holidays, short breaks and business travel.

"We will continue to highlight the great fares and packages available to get here and the excellent holiday offers provided by Northern Ireland tourism industry partners."

Niall O Donnghaile, Sinn Fein representative for east Belfast

"This is nothing more than the typical type of behaviour most people will have come to expect from Michael O'Leary of Ryanair.

"An inquiry is needed so that all arguments for and against the extension could be articulated, not least the very real health and environmental concerns of the many thousands of residents across Belfast and north Down who are affected by traffic in and out of the airport."

Dawn Purvis, Independent MLA east Belfast

"While it is regrettable, it is not surprising, Mr O'Leary has long made his views known regarding the democratic right of the people of east Belfast to lodge their objections and lobby their elected representatives against a runway extension which would add to the already nuisance levels of noise and other forms of pollution.

"My major concern in all of this is that Mr O'Leary's 'hissy fit' does not cost jobs, I hope he has the decency to ensure that these employees can be redeployed elsewhere within Ryanair operations."

Alban Maginness, SDLP chair of the Stormont Enterprise committee

"It's a very regrettable decision and job losses are inevitable.

"The fact is, we have a planning process here that is so torturous and prolonged that it can, in some circumstances, act as a deterrent to investment in business and jobs in our economy.

"Irrespective of the merits of the runway, we have to face the fact that investment in the economy by outside companies is difficult to come by and can be discouraged by the way we carry out our internal processes."

Dr Liz Fawcett, chair of the residents' umbrella group, Belfast City Airport Watch

"Ryanair thought it could come in and dictate airport policy in Northern Ireland, and we're really glad they've discovered they can't.

"While we welcome the move - the City Airport will now be busy enticing airlines such as easyJet to bring more routes to the airport, so any respite from noise for residents is likely to be short-lived.

"At a time of recession which has hit Northern Ireland particularly badly, low-cost airlines obviously face a real challenge in attracting sufficient passengers to make their routes profitable.

"We suspect that the recession is at least as significant a factor in this decision as the proposed runway extension."

Glyn Roberts, Chief Executive Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association

"This is very bad news for both Belfast City Airport and the local economy as a whole.

"Many visitors from the five Ryanair UK routes shopped in Belfast city centre and other towns and cities throughout Northern Ireland.

"Struggling retailers will be disappointed that the loss of these routes will mean fewer customers from other parts of the UK."

Sir Reg Empey, leader of the Ulster Unionists

"There will be mixed emotions in East Belfast this afternoon. Some residents will be extremely relieved that Ryanair have decided to pull out - others who may have taken advantage of the budget flights may be more concerned at their departure.

"Throughout his campaign to extend the runway he refused to take the residents' points of view into consideration.

"This is about balance - we need to look at the needs of local businesses, tourists and the residents."

Peter Weir, DUP North Down assembly member

"I am deeply disappointed but not entirely surprised by the decision of Ryanair to pull out of routes from the City Airport.

"This will have a damaging effect on jobs and investment in the east Belfast and north Down areas, with many local businesses and consumers adversely affected, beyond just the Ryanair employees."