Belfast airport revenues soar 12% on ‘Ryanair factor’
New routes behind improved performance at ‘real alternative to Dublin’
Belfast International Airport: passenger numbers reached 5.2 million in 2016. Photograph: PA.
Belfast International Airport landed pre-tax profits of £611,000 for 2016 thanks to soaring passenger numbers last year.
The airport, which had posted a pre-tax loss of £1.6 million the previous year, said the number of passengers using the airport jumped by 17 per cent in 2016 to 5.2 million.
According to Belfast International Airport (BIA) the increase in passenger numbers delivered a 12 per cent boost to its turnover which increased from £31 million to £35 million in 2016.
Much of BIA’s improved performance is down to the “Ryanair factor” - the airline established a Belfast base in January last year and currently operates 14 routes from BIA.
Additional routes introduced by Ryanair and other airlines including Jet2 last year helped BIA increase its operating profit from £510,000 in 2015 to more than £2.8 million last year.
Before the Brexit vote last year Ryanair had estimated that it alone could develop up to 40 routes from BIA if the UK Government removed air passenger duty charges.
BIA, which is owned by the privately held American organisation Airports Worldwide, is continuing to campaign for the tax on short haul flights in the UK to be axed.
According to Graham Keddie, the airport’s managing director, this would improve its “competitive edge” which he said has been greatly helped by the weak pound this year.
Passenger numbers at BIA rose to four million in the first eight months of 2017 - Mr Keddie is hoping they will increase to six million next year.
“We are offering a real alternative to Dublin which is suffering from a strong euro and we will continue to draw more lucrative business from the Republic of Ireland in 2018,” Mr Keddie said.
He believes the airport plays a key role in helping grow the North’s economy.
“We have seen an additional 800 jobs actually created by our businesses. We’re an economic and employment success story for Northern Ireland, but we’re only at the start of our exciting ‘journey’.
“We will add hundreds more jobs in 2018 with major investments that are in the pipeline,” he added.