|Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary backing Belfast...|
Ryanairs' flamboyant CEO Michael O’Leary has announced seven new no-frills routes from its new hub at Belfast International airport, and these include flights to Berlin and Milan.
Its all part of an expanded winter schedule from Northern Ireland, which also includes extra daily flights to Gatwick. Ryanair said the objective is to deliver more than one million passengers a year from Belfast. This will be achieved by operating a three-times weekly service to Berlin and twice weekly service to Milan. There are also new holiday/leisure routes to Malaga, Lanzarote, Krakow, Alicante and Tenerife.
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary used the event to trumpet his backing for the UK to stay in the EU. “This large inward investment (over $300 million) and new job creation is the latest example of how Northern Ireland benefits from the UK’s membership of the European Union. Low fare air travel, which was pioneered by Ryanair ( JB comments: Conveniently forgetting that Freddie Laker did the initial spadework) in the UK and Europe, is one of the EU’s great success stories."
“We are calling on everyone in Northern Ireland to vote ‘Yes’ to Europe in the Brexit referendum in June, because staying in Europe will mean stronger economic growth, more tourism and more jobs for young people, whereas leaving will reduce the UK to the same status as Norway – namely outside the EU, but part of the single market (for which Norway still pays and still obeys the EU rules), but with no role in setting EU policy or strategy.”
The Irish airline is investing around $100 million with a single Belfast based aircraft and a four-times daily service to Gatwick launching in March.
The Belfast base will extend to three aircraft and five more new routes from October 2016, which Ryanair forecasts will result in more than 1 million new customers and fund some 750 Belfast based jobs.
The Gatwick service will conveniently use slots at Belfast that were given up by Aer Lingus as part of the IAG deal.
Graham Keddie, MD of Belfast International Airport said: “This is a significant and far-reaching announcement by Ryanair. The Gatwick slots given up by Aer Lingus as part of the IAG takeover, are being safeguarded and used for the benefit of Northern Ireland. Gatwick is growing in popularity, and it was crucial to retain them.”
At the time, Ryanair also announced it grew passenger traffic 25 per cent in December compared to the same period in 2014.
The increase in traffic numbers shows Ryanair carried over 100 million passengers in 2015.
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