Belfast International Airport
|Belfast International Airport
|Owner||ADC & HAS.|
|Operator||Belfast International Airport Ltd.|
|Serves||Belfast, United Kingdom|
|Location||Aldergrove, County Antrim,
|Elevation AMSL||268 ft / 82 m|
Belfast International Airport (IATA: BFS, ICAO: EGAA) is an airport 11.5 NM (21.3 km; 13.2 mi) northwest of Belfast in Northern Ireland. It was formerly known and is still referred to as Aldergrove Airport, after the nearby village of Aldergrove, which lies immediately to the west. Nearly 4.4 million passengers travelled through the airport in 2015, a 9% increase compared with 2014. Belfast International is the busiest airport in Northern Ireland and the second busiest airport on the island of Ireland in terms of passenger numbers after Dublin Airport and is followed by Belfast-City, Cork and Shannon.
Belfast International has a CAA Public Use Aerodrome Licence (Number P798) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction. The airfield was previously shared with the Royal Air Force base RAF Aldergrove, which closed in 2008; the base is now known as Joint Helicopter Command Flying Station, Aldergrove and both runways are now owned by the airport. The airport is owned by ADC & HAS, the same company which owns Stockholm Skavsta, Orlando Sanford International Airport, Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport, Mariscal Sucre International Airport and Juan Santamaría International Airport.
The airport lies within the parish of Killead, between the small villages of Killead (to the east) and Aldergrove (to the west). The site for the airport was established in 1917 when it was selected to be a Royal Flying Corps training establishment during the First World War. The airport remained open at the end of the war for RAF activity.
Civil traffic began in 1922 when flights were conducted flying newspapers from Chester and a regular civil air service started in 1933. The flight was to Glasgow and was operated by Midland and Scottish Air Ferries. This was subsequently augmented by flights to the Isle of Man, Liverpool and Croydon, then London’s airport.
During the Second World War, Aldergrove remained an RAF station particularly for the Coastal Command. So that the airport could accommodate larger, long-range aircraft, a major works programme was undertaken to replace the four existing runways with two new long paved runways, thereby forming the basis of the layout that still exists at the airport today.
One of the outcomes of the wartime airfield construction programme was the building of Nutts Corner Airport, just 3 mi (4.8 km) from Aldergrove. On 1 December 1946, the new site replaced Belfast Harbour Airport (now George Best Belfast City Airport) as Northern Ireland’s civil airport, as the site at Sydenham was considered unsuitable.
By the 1950s civil air traffic had outstripped the facilities at Nutts Corner and, in addition, aircraft were being regularly diverted to Aldergrove because of adverse weather conditions. In July 1959 the decision was made to move civil flights to Aldergrove to take advantage of the large airfield and this took place in October 1963.
A new terminal and apron were built with the necessary passenger facilities and the complex was opened by Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother on 28 October 1963. In 1966 the first regular jet service to London-Gatwick started and in 1968 Aer Lingus and BOAC introduced scheduled services to New York City via Shannon and Glasgow-Prestwick respectively.
In 1971 Northern Ireland Airports Limited was formed to operate and develop the airport and its facilities. A major programme of airfield upgrades was undertaken resulting in improvements to runways, taxiways and the parking apron.
A new International Pier was built together with lounge facilities and car parks, while an additional apron was provided to separate the smaller general aviation aircraft from large commercial jets. In the meantime, British Airways launched the first Belfast to Heathrow shuttle service and the first Boeing 747 operated from the airport on a charter service to Toronto via Shannon. The first scheduled service to a European city was started by NLM Cityhopper (now KLM Cityhopper) flying to Amsterdam.
In 1983 the airport, renamed Belfast International, was regularly accommodating the largest civil aircraft in service and with the installation of new technology was capable of all weather operations. In 1985 passenger numbers reached 1.5 million and BMI went into competition with British Airways on the Heathrow service. Further developments to the terminal occurred throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s. A new Executive Aviation Terminal was opened in 1987 and the new cargo centre opened in 1991.
The airport was privatised in 1994. TBI became the new owners of the airport on 13 August 1996, by which time annual passenger numbers had reached 2.5 million.
In 1998 Easyjet started operations from the airport with flights to London Luton. Since then the airline has established a large base at Belfast International and a further eleven domestic routes and fifteen direct European scheduled routes have been added to the network, making the airline the largest user of the airport.
Developments since 2000
In 2005 Continental Airlines launched the first ever nonstop scheduled service to Newark, which continued to operate under the United Airlines brand until January 2017, when the route was cancelled. 
In February 2015 the airport re-opened the viewing gallery that had been closed for 10 years, it provides a view of the apron and the runways that serve the airport. It also includes live ATC, arrival and departure boards, and a live flightradar. 
In 2016 Ryanair opened its 77th base at the airport, launching services to London Gatwick. The airline launched several more routes, including routes to Berlin and Milan, in an investment worth $300 million. Ryanair also said they would carry 1.1 million annual passengers out of the airport.
Airlines and destinations
The following airlines operate regular scheduled and charter flights to and from Belfast International:
Belfast International Airport has a wide range of cargo operators at the airport, they are currently:
|ASL Airlines Belgium||East Midlands, Liège|
|Atlantic Airlines||East Midlands|
operated by European Air Transport
operated by Titan Airways
|Star Air (Maersk)||East Midlands, Edinburgh|
operated by Swiftair
|Birmingham, London-Stansted, Paris-Charles de Gaulle|
Traffic and statistics
In 2007, the airport hit a record of 5.3 million passengers which is the highest in the airport's history. The figure remained static in 2008 but the figure declined sharply in 2009 to 4.5 million and again in 2010 to 4 million. Figures for 2011 indicated a small rise to 4.1 million, while a larger increase then occurred to 4.5 million in 2012, returning the total to 2009 levels. 2013 figures indicated a decrease to 4 million, which was roughly a return to the 2010 figures and the total remained static in 2014, but increased to nearly 4.4 million in 2015. The airport is the busiest in Northern Ireland and the second busiest airport on the island of Ireland, after Dublin Airport. Belfast International was the 12th busiest airport in the UK by passenger traffic in 2015.
||Updated: 30 March 2016|
| % Change
2014 / 15
|6||Paris Charles de Gaulle, France||77,969||79,820||2|
|7||Lanzarote, Canary Islands||75,784||57,167||33|
|8||Tenerife, Canary Islands||75,224||78,903||5|
|9||Newark, United States||69,258||82,958||17|
|14||Ibiza, Balearic Islands||30,514||30,405||0|
|17||Katowice, Poland||23,155||-||New Route|
|18||Vilnius, Lithuania||21,777||-||New Route|
|19||Gran Canaria, Canary Islands||20,690||9,105||127|
| % Change
2014 / 15
|1||London Gatwick||470 344||434 305||8|
|2||Liverpool||426 106||418 389||2|
|3||London Stansted||323 659||306 883||5|
|4||London Luton||295 292||240 885||23|
|5||Glasgow International||266 275||241 789||10|
|6||Edinburgh||262 773||235 552||12|
|7||Bristol||246 504||230 833||7|
|8||Manchester||224 497||204 987||10|
|9||Newcastle||219 499||196 739||12|
|10||Birmingham||196 202||179 503||9|
Travellers by car from Belfast reach the airport via the M2 motorway. The airport operates four car parks, three on-site car parks and one off-site car park. The on-site short stay and main car parks are situated within easy walking distance of the terminal building and an on demand courtesy bus operates to and from the on-site long stay car park. The off-site short or long stay car park called 'Park and Fly' is located just before the main entrance to the airport and is also serviced by a courtesy bus.
Translink operates a number 300 express bus service to the airport from their Europa Buscentre, in the centre of Belfast operating daily from 04.15 until 23.30hrs. Also Passengers can reach Antrim Train/Bus Station using the 109A Bus service from Outside the Arrivals door this enables passengers to connect onto NI railways services at Antrim Train/Bus Station. The airport can be reached from Derry and the northwest by the Airporter.
The nearest railway station is Antrim railway station, 10 km (6.2 mi) from the airport in Antrim and serviced by a bus link, the Antrim Airlink (109A). There are connections to Belfast, Lisburn and Derry. Antrim station is on the Belfast–Derry railway line. Trains to and from Dublin are via Belfast Central railway station. A new station serving the airport could be constructed on the mothballed Lisburn-Antrim railway line, as set out in the airport master plan. This line remains in serviceable condition and passes close to the airport terminal. It has also been listed in a public review of the future of Northern Ireland railways, which would see the airport being served by train by the year 2020.
Accidents and incidents
- On 24 March 1996, Vickers Viscount G-OPFE of British World Airways was damaged beyond economic repair when it made a wheels-up landing.
- On 23 December 1997, a Maersk Air Boeing 737 aircraft operated by British Airways and with 63 passengers and 6 crew on board was forced to return to the airport after a major failure in the starboard engine. The pilot declared an emergency and the aircraft returned to the airport safely on one engine. It was later found that an engine seal had failed, causing catastrophic engine failure and slight damage to the engine cowling and under-wing surface. The subsequent investigation uncovered design and manufacturing defects with the seals and led to the incorporation of new design seals in all future engines.
- On 31 October 2010, a bomb was found inside a Toyota Carina parked in the long-stay car park and Army bomb disposal experts dismantled it. It is believed that the car and bomb had been in the car park since 2009. It was only discovered when workers were getting ready to tow the vehicle out of the car park. Many passengers had to spend the night in hotels or arrange alternative transport as they were unable to get to their cars.
- Airport sale agreed - Belfast International Airport. Belfastairport.com. Retrieved on 2013-07-23.
- "Belfast/Aldergrove - EGAA". Nats-uk.ead-it.com. Retrieved 2012-07-12.
- "Aircraft and passenger traffic data from UK airports". UK Civil Aviation Authority. 25 March 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
- "albertis - Belfast International Airport". Belfast International Airport. Retrieved 19 December 2011.
- "easyJet Route Map". easyJet.
- Jess, Mervyn (23 February 2015). "Belfast International Airport 'puts fun back into flying'". BBC News. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
- belfastairport.com - Destination Map retrieved 11 October 2016
- "Topflight Ski Holidays". Topflight. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
- "Thomson Airways". TUI Group. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
- Courier Services in Belfast International Airport | Reviews - Yell
- "Royal Mail Operation Extension". Titan Airways. 17 June 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- 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.
- "Belfast International Airport Parking - Park and Fly". Retrieved 3 June 2015.
- "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 9 October 2009.
- "AAIB.gov.uk". AAIB.gov.uk. 23 December 1997. Retrieved 3 February 2011.
- "Small bomb found in car at Belfast International Airport". BBC News. 2010-10-31. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
- "Belfast International Airport bomb 'there for a year'". BBC News. 1 November 2010. Retrieved 3 February 2011.
Media related to Belfast International Airport at Wikimedia Commons