O'Leary Criticises NI Gov Over City Airport Extension

Ryaniar boss Michael O'Leary has criticised the Northern Ireland Government for its decision to refer a runway extension at Belfast City Airport to a public inquiry.

Speaking today in Belfast, Mr O'Leary said up to 500 new jobs and more air routes to Europe were being jeopardised by the delay to the George Best extension.

Environment Minister Edwin Poots put the matter to public inquiry last month after a sustained campaign by residents living near the east Belfast airport who claimed the extension would increase noise pollution levels.

Speaking in Belfast this morning, Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary said: “While obviously we respect the decision of the NI Govt to refer the runway extension to a public inquiry, this 18 month delay will mean that Belfast have lost out on five new routes, 500,000 passengers and up to 500 new jobs here in Northern Ireland.

"Sadly Belfast City’s loss will now be gained by other Spanish and Italian airports, who are able to offer lower costs and unrestricted airport facilities to capture Ryanair’s growth.

"We will continue to work with our partners in Belfast City Airport to assist the public inquiry, but want to apologise to the people of Northern Ireland that the low fare access to Continental Europe, which Ryanair’s new routes would have delivered at Belfast City Airport, will now be delayed by at least 18 months."

The £8m (€9.14m) plan to lengthen the runway by nearly 600 metres would allow planes with heavier fuel loads to use the airport, opening up the possibility of flights to and from wider destinations in Europe.


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