Ryanair Boss 'Rejects' Belfast City Runway Inquiry

There's bad news for an east Belfast residents' group that is fighting the proposed runway extension at the North's George Best Belfast City Airport.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has said that he is "fairly satisfied" the Northern Ireland Planning Service will approve the proposal for a longer runway at the facility.

Speaking on a BBC Spotlight programme to be broadcast on Tuesday, the budget airline's Chief Executive related that he believes the runway will be extended, despite growing opposition to the move.

Such a development is essential to Ryanair's progress in Belfast - although it also operates from City of Derry Airport in the North too - as it is needed to allow him to fill all the seats on aircraft already being operated, but currently subject to weight restrictions because of the 'short' runaway.

Such a move would also allow him to utilise these larger aircraft and fly them to continental and transatlantic destinations.

This would open up a whole new 'world' of holiday destinations for the company, by attracting leisure business to Mediterranean destinations.

On a visit North in late 2008, O'Leary said his airline would introduce international services for the summer of 2010 if the runway were extended in time.

However, there has already been a call for a public inquiry into the expansion plan, which to date attracted more than 1,700 objections to Planning Service after being submitted in November.

Tonight's programme will see Mr O'Leary dismiss the need for such an investigation and to rubbished calls for a public inquiry: "At the end of the day, you still have to make a decision," he said.

However, the residents' group, Belfast City Airport Watch's spokesman Jamie Andrews insisted last month: "It's now imperative that the Environment Minister, Sammy Wilson, listens to ordinary people in the affected communities, and either rejects this scheme outright or holds a public inquiry into it."

See: Stormont Urged To Debate City Airport Runway Plan

See: City Airport Extension Plan Flies Into Trouble

See: Is Runway Extension 'Key' To Belfast Airport Sale?


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