Ryanair plans to reopen Belfast base and add flights

Irish carrier will fly 12 routes from Northern Ireland starting next summer

Ryanair will fly to Alicante and Malaga next summer from Belfast International Airport where it plans to reopen its base.

The carrier said on Thursday that it would fly 12 routes from Belfast, Ireland’s second biggest city, in summer 2023.

Planned routes include popular holiday destinations Alicante, Barcelona-Girona, Faro and Malaga, while it will also fly to British airports including London-Stansted, Edinburgh and Manchester.

The Irish airline will base two aircraft at Belfast International, which it says represents a $200 million (€197 million) investment that will create more than 60 direct jobs and up to 750 indirectly.

Jason McGuinness, Ryanair’s director of commercial, confirmed that the company reached a “long-term agreement with Belfast International’s management” that would underpin the airline’s growth at the airport.

Job creation

Dan Owens, Belfast International’s chief financial officer, said Ryanair’s investment brought “job creation and good news for passengers and the region”.

“It increases the number of destinations now available from the airport to over 70 domestic and international destinations, offering more choice than ever for travellers,” he added.

Mr Owens noted the new base reflected Belfast International’s owner French group Vinci Airports’ commitment to the North.

Mr McGuinness called on the British government to scrap air passenger duty, a tax that the UK levies on holidaymakers and travellers.

The British tax authorities charge £13 (€15.30) for passengers flying within the UK and to European countries, but will halve the domestic rate next spring to £6.50.

Ryanair dismissed the planned 50 per cent domestic-only cut in April as “simply insufficient” and wants the British to scrap the levy altogether.

Mr McGuinness said to allow extra investment by Ryanair and other airlines, the British government should “immediately scrap aviation taxes for all flights otherwise it will put the UK – an island-based economy – at risk of losing air traffic to competing European countries.

The Republic axed travel tax in 2013, sparking six years of growth in air travel and tourism.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas