LONDON – Belfast International Airport (BFS) has announced it will remain semi-open and close on days with no flights throughout November.
These closures have been proposed across seven dates over the course of this month, with the move not affecting passenger flights. Commenting on the news was BFS’ Managing Director Graham Keddie who dubbed this a “tough decision”.
“This was to keep Northern Ireland connected and to ensure that we remained open for all medical emergency flights, all military and PSNI traffic, the Royal Mail and all cargo flights, including the delivery of online purchases”.
Keddie also stated that it is costing the airport around £65,000 every day to remain open, so such closures are needed in order to keep the financials at a steady head.
“The recent travel restrictions and subsequent announcements from easyJet and Ryanair, among others, to understandably reduce their routes means we need to make more difficult decisions.
“As a result, we will be closing the airport for a few hours on certain days throughout November when there are no commercial flights meaning passengers will not be impacted.”
“We did not make this decision lightly and we are in discussions with the NI Executive for support to ensure that we will be in a position to welcome these flights back as soon as it is possible.”
BFS has proposed that the airport be closed on the following days and at the following times:
- November 14 – 1115L-1830L – Will reopen at 1300-1430L to facilitate a charter flight.
- November 17 – 1000L-1830L.
- November 18 – 1000L-1830L.
- November 21 – 1000L-1830L – Will reopen to facilitate another charter flight. Time TBC.
- November 24 – 1000L-1830L.
- November 25 – 1000L-1830L.
- November 28 – 1000L-1830L.
Such closures will take place due to the continued devastating effect that COVID-19 has on the pandemic.
Significant Blow to a Growing Airport
This is a big blow to Belfast, especially as the airport has experienced significant growth in the last 20 years.
From handling 3.1 million passengers in 2000 to 6.2 million in 2018, it highlights the sheer importance of the airport to the Northern Irish capital.
It will also be a considerable blow for Londoners, as services to Stansted (STN), Gatwick (LGW) and Luton (LTN) account for 1.6 million passengers every year on average.
easyJet (U2), Ryanair (FR), Jet2 (LS) and TUI (BY) all operate significant operations out of the airport, especially during the Summer season when European tourism is rife.
With BFS being a considerable gateway into Northern Ireland, such closures announced reflects on the careful thinking that the airport is taking to ensure its liquidity.
With four of the most prominent airlines operating into the airport, it wants to continue that legacy and will do all it takes to ensure this continues to be a reality.
BFS is also important, especially for linking Northern Ireland with the rest of the United Kingdom and with Aldergrove being the largest airport in the country.
It will be interesting to see how BFS continues to weather this storm and whether more drastic measures will be needed to keep the airport running, of course government-depending on restrictions.
Featured Image: Aerial view of Belfast International Airport. Photo Credit: BFS Airport.