Ryanair: Airline to return to Belfast City Airport

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Ryanair has announced it will recommence flights from Belfast City Airport after an absence of 11 years.

The Irish airline will operate flights to and from eight destinations in mainland Spain, the Balearic islands and Italy between June and October.

Ryanair said the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination would give air passengers confidence to travel.

Belfast City Airport chief executive Brian Ambrose said it was "excellent news" for people considering a holiday.

Mr Ambrose said he is expecting "considerable demand" for these routes as travel restrictions are eased.

The airline will offer up to seven flights a week to each of the following destinations:

  • Malaga
  • Mallorca
  • Faro
  • Alicante
  • Barcelona
  • Ibiza
  • Milan Bergamo
  • Valencia

Ryanair ceased operations at Belfast City Airport in 2010 after a public inquiry into a planned runway extension was delayed.

Ryanair operated out of Belfast City Airport from 2007 until 2010.

At that time, they wanted the airport to extend the length of the runway. After the airport put in a planning application, a public inquiry was announced.

Speaking to BBC's Spotlight programme, Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary threatened to pull out of the airport if the runway wasn't extended. That was what happened.

But now more than 10 years on, Ryanair is back.

Head of marketing Dara Brady said they worked through their issues around the runway and they are always talking to airports - even those they previously left - which is how they have come back to the City Airport.

There are eight new routes to sunny destinations starting from June, but it's important to point out we still don't have a date when international travel will resume. The government's message is very much stay at home.

We know in the last few weeks since Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out his roadmap for things to reopen from June, some people - particularly the older age groups who have been vaccinated - have been getting in touch with travel agents looking to book again.

Airports and airlines have been among those hardest hit by the pandemic but Ryanair is planning ahead and will be hoping this will be the first step back towards recovery.

Meanwhile, the UK Department for Transport and the NI Executive have agreed to continue funding for the direct route from City of Derry Airport to London Stansted.

A financial support package was announced in May to help the airport continue to cover operational costs during the coronavirus pandemic.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds has said the funding was vital to "provide connectivity and a regionally balanced economy".