Aer Lingus announced from Sunday 28th of October it’s moving to Belfast City Airport after an extensive competitive tendering process with Belfast City & Belfast International airports. The opportunity for the RFP was a result of British Airways announcing it was closing the Bmibaby Base at Belfast City following the acquisition of the carrier and subsequent operations review thus creating a void to be filled by another carrier at Belfast City.

The Aer Lingus move underpins it’s €100 million investment in Northern Ireland having established a base in Belfast International five years ago and it’s commitment to the Northern Ireland market.

This announcement will see the carrier re-structure the Belfast route network accordingly routes to Alicante, Barcelona, Faro, Las Palmas, Lanzorate, Malaga, Tenerife South will cease effective 28th October. The routes to the Canary Islands are apparently being axed due to runway constraints at Belfast City.

Jet2 has announced plans to fill the void in the market with new weekly routes to Lanzorate and Tenerife South commencing on the 4th of November.

The Base fleet two Airbus A319s EI-EPR & EI-EPS will operate from Belfast City Airport to London Gatwick & London Heathrow three times daily thus increasing connectivity opportunities for business and lesuire segments, plans for Summer 2013 call for three base aircraft operating to Faro and Malaga daily.

Aer Lingus will face competition on the London Gatwick route from Easyjet x 4 times daily (Belfast International) & Flybe x 5 times daily (Belfast City).  In addition to Easyjet serving Luton x 3 daily & Stansted x 4 daily and Southend x 2 daily.

Aer Lingus will be competing aganist British Airways (Formerly BMI) to London Heathrow which is currently operating six times daily and is due to increase to seven daily for the winter schedule.

The Aer Lingus CEO Christoph Mueller stated “Northern Ireland’s vital London connections are secure with Aer Lingus, This is a commercial decision delivering value for our customers and the company. George Best Belfast City Airport delivers a compelling location and a strong history of business flying.

We believe the move will appeal to the 600,000 plus passengers annually who fly with us and especially the business traveller who now has a choice of two London airports with Aer Lingus.

Indeed business travellers based in the Belfast City Centre will now be able to substantially reduce transit times from office to aircraft. Customers who are members of our Gold Circle frequent flyer programme will also be able to use the business lounge facilities at George Best Belfast City Airport. We believe our dual offer of Heathrow and Gatwick supports the local marketplace during these challenging economic times”.

The carrier plans to expand the base with future investment and new routes.

Irish Aviation Research Institute © 19th July 2012