Irish carrier Ryanair has announced plans to cease all its flights at Belfast International Airport and Belfast City Airport.
The company will end flights at Belfast City Airport in September and at Belfast International Airport in October.
Ryanair blamed the UK Government’s ‘refusal to suspend or reduce air passenger duty (APD), as well as the absence of Covid recovery incentives from both the airports’.
A tax levied on air passengers, APD differs according to destination and class of travel.
The carrier informed that the aircraft flying on routes to and from Belfast would be ‘reallocated to lower-cost airports elsewhere in the UK and Europe for the winter schedule, which starts in November’.
Belfast International Airport said that it will negotiate with other airlines to replace the routes.
A spokesperson for Belfast International Airport was quoted by BBC as saying: “It is disappointing that Ryanair has now decided to withdraw operations from the entire Northern Ireland market at the end of October, having variously had a presence in all three local airports in recent years.
“It has been a difficult period for aviation and a time when consumers need some stability and faith in the Northern Ireland air transport network.”
Ryanair’s services from Belfast International Airport included Alicante, Malaga, Milan, Krakow, Gdansk and more.
After an 11-year absence, the company recommenced flights at Belfast City Airport in May 2021. It has been running flights to and from eight destinations in Spain, the Balearic Islands and Italy.
The move proves that the demand for flights has remained muted due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Earlier, Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said that in the 12 months to the end of March 2022, the airline is projected to fly between 90 million and 100 million people, as against the peak of 149 million before the pandemic.