Belfast International Airport has welcomed the announcement this week by UK low-fare carrier easyJet of a major expansion on all its Belfast-London routes, calling the growth a ‘historic milestone’ for trade between the two capital cities. The news came as the carrier put its winter schedule on sale for 2015 with a record number of flights and routes available
Over 22 million seats have been launched across the entire easyJet network, more than half touching the UK market with over 78,000 flights across 370 routes available between October 25, 2015 and February 28, 2016, providing 13,045,080 seats to and from the UK, according to the carrier. This network includes new winter routes between Belfast and Alicante; Bristol and Geneva; London Gatwick and Copenhagen; Liverpool and Faro; and Manchester and Amsterdam.
At Belfast in Northern Ireland, the airline’s winter schedule sees it increasing the number of seats for sale on routes to Gatwick, Luton and Stansted in London by more than 125,000, bringing the total number of seats to over 500,000 up to the end of February, 2016. In addition, easyJet will add seat capacity to Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester, bringing the total to 160,000 seats.
“This is a development of enormous importance. easyJet is Northern Ireland’s main airline and this news will see it reinforce its presence in the market,” said Graham Keddie, managing director, Belfast International Airport.
“We’re delighted at this news which will see impressive levels of growth on all three London services. The airline offers a superb, price-sensitive product and its approach is clearly making significant in-roads on the competition. easyJet has achieved an historic milestone on its London services, and other domestic routes are also benefiting,” he added.
easyJet increasing the number of seats by close to a third will mean significant increases in airport activity, according to the airport boss. “We are well equipped to handle such a tremendous increase which will bring benefits not only to South Antrim but Northern Ireland generally,” he explained.
“This level of passenger traffic will generate real jobs in a sector that offers so much to the regional economy. In this instance alone, we will see upwards of 100 jobs created at the airport and in the supply chain. These jobs won’t cost the taxpayer a penny. They will generate up to £2,500,000 in wages and salaries and that will be a welcome boost for retailers,” he added.
In our analysis we look more closely at easyJet's annual capacity offering between Belfast International and the airports it serves in London. Alongside its current services to Gatwick, Luton and Stansted, it also operated flights between Belfast and Southend between 2012 and 2014. The data from OAG Schedules Analyser shows that capacity has fluctuated over the past ten years from highs of over 700,000 annual departure seats between 2005 and 2008 to just 420,000 in 2010.