According to a report in the Northern Ireland press, UK carrier easyJet is looking to grow its activities at Belfast International Airport in 2015 thanks to the arrival of a single Airbus A320 at its regional base. The larger jet will boost its capacity by three per cent, but more importantly will allow some longer-range routes to be flown from the city.
According to the Belfast Telegraph, easyJet will switch its Belfast International Airport operation from five A319s to four A319s and one A320 from summer 2015. While the A319s are configured with 156-seats, the A320 can accommodate 180 passengers and has a range to enable links to the Greek islands or the Canaries to be opened.
"Having this aircraft unlocks the opportunity for Greek islands or the Canary Islands and gives more scope to broaden our networks and we want to start looking at more exciting leisure destinations," said Sophie Dekkers, director of the UK market, easyJet, reported the newspaper. "Next week we are compiling our long wishlist for next year's destinations, which will be based on demand, revenue and viability," she added.
easyJet launched flights from Belfast in September 1998 and currently operates a network of seasonal and year-round routes from Belfast to 24 different destinations. It will shortly introduce a new link to Keflavik International Airport in Iceland (from December 12, 2014) and will add a summer link to the Croatian city of Split from May 20, 2015. Some of these routes have already served with A320 equipment since 2009 from other bases or through 'W' flight patterns.
Our own analysis of last week’s flight schedules (see ‘easyJet Introduces 26 new Routes for summer 2015’) highlighted that Belfast International Airport was among the airline’s top ten largest destinations by departure capacity. In a new analysis, below, we look in greater detail at the carrier’s capacity offering at the airport over the past ten years.
After peaking in 2007, the airline's departure capacity from Belfast declined over the subsequent three years, but growth returned in 2011 and reached a new peak last year. This year's capacity is a 5.4 per cent decline on last year, based on published schedules to year-end, but the A320 deployment in 2015 will mean the market is likely to grow to a new high next year.