George Best Belfast City Airport
George Best Belfast City Airport
|Owner||3i Group plc (3i)|
|Operator||Belfast City Airport Ltd.|
|Serves||Belfast, Northern Ireland|
|Location||Port of Belfast|
|Focus city for||Flybe|
|Elevation AMSL||15 ft / 5 m|
George Best Belfast City Airport (IATA: BHD, ICAO: EGAC) is a single-runway airport in Belfast, County Down, Northern Ireland. Situated adjacent to the Port of Belfast it is 3 mi (5 km) from Belfast City Centre. It shares the site with the Short Brothers/Bombardier aircraft manufacturing facility. The airport began commercial operations in 1983, and was known as "Belfast City Airport" until it was renamed in 2006 in memory of George Best, the professional footballer from Belfast. The airport has a CAA public use aerodrome licence (number P862) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction.
The airport primarily handles intra-UK flights. It handled over 2.7 million passengers in 2010, its peak year, and slightly below 2.6 million in 2017. It is a major base for Flybe, which began operations at the airport in 1993 and is now the largest operator at Belfast City. In 2012 Aer Lingus opened a base at the airport, transferring operations from Belfast International Airport. Ground handling is provided by Swissport and Menzies Aviation.
Sydenham Airport was established by Shorts beside its Belfast factory at Sydenham in 1937. This became Belfast's main civilian airport from 1938 to 1939. The airfield was requisitioned by the Royal Navy during the Second World War and named HMS Gadwall. RAF Nutts Corner then became Belfast's main airport (while Aldergrove would later become the primary airport in Northern Ireland). The Sydenham airfield continued to be used for military purposes until the 1970s, including use by the Fleet Air Arm as a naval aircraft storage unit, after which it was used solely by Shorts.
In 1983, following interest from airlines and customers, the airfield was opened for commercial flights as Belfast Harbour Airport (subsequently Belfast City Airport and now in its current guise).
Development from 2000 to 2010
Following major capital investment Bombardier sold the airport in 2003 for £35 million to the Spanish company Ferrovial, the owner of BAA Airports. Ferrovial re-sold the airport in September 2008 for £132.5 million to ABN Amro Global Infrastructure Fund.
In March 2006, it was announced that the airport would be renamed in memory of Northern Irish footballer George Best. The new name, George Best Belfast City Airport, and signage were revealed at the renaming ceremony attended by Best's family and friends on 22 May 2006, which would have been Best's 60th birthday. The renaming of the airport caused controversy, with many articles in local and national print media highlighting the mixed feelings of Belfast residents. Also in March 2006 Flybe announced that it would be naming its Belfast City – Manchester service after the footballer, dedicating a plane to him.
In October 2007 Ryanair established its 23rd base at the airport, operating five routes and carrying 800,000 annual passengers. The airline closed its Belfast City base in 2010 due to delays in the planned runway extension. The airline stated that would fly to European destinations from the airport if the runway was extended.
Manx2 moved its Isle of Man service to the airport in 2010, however the airline has since ceased operations.
Passenger numbers increased by 4.5% from 2,621,763 in 2009 to 2,740,341 in 2010, the highest total on record at the airport.
Development since 2011
In January 2011 Bmibaby moved its Belfast base to the airport, in order to keep its operation under one roof with sister airline BMI. The airline ceased operations from Belfast City Airport in June 2012.
In October 2012 Aer Lingus moved its services from Belfast International to the Airport. The airline launched flights to five destinations, though has since reduced their operations to three routes. Spanish carrier Vueling launched summer-seasonal flights to Barcelona in May 2015, though the route was cancelled in late 2015. Dutch carrier KLM launched daily flights to Amsterdam in 2015, with flights operated by KLM Cityhopper. Brussels Airlines launched flights to Brussels in 2016, though the airline axed the route in 2017. In early 2017, Eastern Airways commenced flights to the Isle of Man following the demise of Citywing, though the airline axed the route in 2018. Icelandic carrier Air Iceland Connect commenced flights to Keflavik in 2017 on behalf of Icelandair, though the route was cancelled in 2018.
Expansion plans and objections
As the airport is adjacent to residential areas, the issue of noise pollution is a major one and a source of public debate. The airport has developed a noise management strategy following a planning agreement, under which the airport operates, and has established operational noise abatement procedures.
The airport has recently applied for a complete removal of the limit on the seats it can sell – a key element of the 1997 planning agreement, which guards against over-expansion of an airport which is sited in a densely populated location. As a result, numerous residents' groups have formed a coalition – The Coalition Against Belfast City Airport Expansion – to protest against the airport's proposed expansion plans, and to represent the views of residents at the Examination in Public held during 2006.
Restrictions applied to the airport include:
- The requirement for flights to be scheduled between 6:30 am and 9:30 pm. The exception to this is for delayed flights where extensions may be granted.
- That there would be a limit of 45,000 commercial (and unlimited general aviation) aircraft movements in any year, restricted further in 2008 to 48,000 combined commercial and general aviation aircraft movements.
- That airlines must not offer more than 4 million seats for sale on flights from the airport per year.
- The majority of flights must approach and depart the airport over Belfast Lough (currently 52% as of April 2017), rather than over the city of Belfast.
- Any flight departing over the lough must turn left to head north (further from land) at 500 feet. Only after reaching 2,000 feet (for turboprops) or 3,000 feet (for jet aircraft) may they then turn south to move over land again.
- Any flight departing over the city must head in a straight line until 2,000 feet (for turboprop aircraft) or 3,000 feet (for jet aircraft) before they are allowed to turn.
Airlines and destinations
The following airlines operate regular scheduled and charter flights to and from Belfast City Airport:
|Aer Lingus|| London–Heathrow |
Seasonal: Faro, Málaga
|Flybe|| Aberdeen, Birmingham, Cardiff, Doncaster/Sheffield, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Inverness, Leeds/Bradford, Liverpool (ends 31 December 2018), London–City, Manchester, Southampton |
Seasonal charter: Salzburg
|Updated: 2 May 2018|
2016 / 17
Sydenham railway station is adjacent to the southern perimeter of the airport, across the A2 from the old passenger terminal. It is served by frequent Northern Ireland Railways trains between Bangor and Portadown. Trains towards Portadown call at the Belfast Central and Great Victoria Street railway stations. With the construction of the new passenger terminal further northeast, passengers arriving or departing by train can request an airport courtesy bus to take them to or from the terminal.
Translink Metro route 600 is the Belfast City Airlink service, from the terminal to the Belfast Europa Buscentre adjacent to the Europa Hotel and Belfast Great Victoria Street railway station. Buses run every thirty minutes throughout the day. In addition Metro bus 3A operates every 10 minutes from Sydenham to Belfast City Hall. The Airporter service operates 12 coach services to the airport on weekdays as well as 5 coaches on Saturdays and 8 coaches on Sundays to Derry.
- Belfast/City – EGAC. Nats-uk.ead-it.com.
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- Silverfish AG, Zürich. "Swissport International Ltd. - Network". Retrieved 4 June 2015.
- "Menzies Aviation - Network". Archived from the original on 7 May 2015. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
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- Airport Sale News Archived 6 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
- 'George Best Airport' splits city Archived 18 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.. Thescotsman.scotsman.com (22 March 2006).
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- "Examination in Public – Belfast City Airport Planning Agreement". Retrieved 4 June 2015.
- Belfast City Airport Watch. Bbc.co.uk.
- "Belfast City Airport curbs to be relaxed". 2 September 2008. Archived from the original on 7 May 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
- "Error 404: Page Not Found" (PDF). Retrieved 4 June 2015.
- http://belfastcityairport.com/About-Us/Environment/Noise-Management.aspx[permanent dead link]
- belfastcityairport.com - Routes retrieved 11 October 2016
- "Flybe to axe Belfast to Liverpool service".
- Number of Passengers, Freight and Mail include both domestic and international counterparts.
- Number of Movements represents total air transport takeoffs and landings during that year.
- "Airport Data 2017". UK Civil Aviation Authority. 16 March 2018. Tables 12.1(XLS) and 12.2 (XLS). Retrieved 16 March 2018.
- "Airporter Winter Timetable - Valid from 26th October 2014". Airporter. Archived from the original on 28 September 2014. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
Media related to Belfast City Airport at Wikimedia Commons