George Best Belfast City Airport

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George Best Belfast City Airport
George Best Belfast City Airport.png
George Best Belfast City Airport - geograph.org.uk - 714574.jpg
Summary
Airport typePublic
Owner3i Group plc (3i)
OperatorBelfast City Airport Ltd.
ServesBelfast
LocationCounty Down
Opened16 March 1983 (38 years ago) (1983-03-16)
Focus city for
Elevation AMSL15 ft / 5 m
Coordinates54°37′05″N 05°52′21″W / 54.61806°N 5.87250°W / 54.61806; -5.87250Coordinates: 54°37′05″N 05°52′21″W / 54.61806°N 5.87250°W / 54.61806; -5.87250
Websitewww.belfastcityairport.com
Map
EGAC is located in Greater Belfast
EGAC
EGAC
Location in Greater Belfast
EGAC is located in island of Ireland
EGAC
EGAC
Location in Northern Ireland
EGAC is located in the United Kingdom
EGAC
EGAC
Location on the island of Ireland
EGAC is located in Northern Ireland
EGAC
EGAC
Location in the United Kingdom
Runways
Direction Length Surface
m ft
04/22 1,829 6,001 Asphalt
Statistics (2020)
Passengers542,547
Passenger change 19-20Decrease77.9%
Aircraft movements10,359
Movements change 19-20Decrease70.1%
Sources: UK AIP at NATS[1]
Statistics from the UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]
George Best Belfast City Airport in relation to Belfast city centre

George Best Belfast City Airport (IATA: BHD, ICAO: EGAC) is a single-runway airport in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Situated in County Down, it is adjacent to the Port of Belfast[1] and is 3 miles (5 kilometres) from Belfast City Centre. It shares the site with the Spirit AeroSystems (formerly 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.[3] The airport has a CAA public use aerodrome licence (number P862) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction.

As of June 2021, 7 airlines operate 25 routes across the UK and Europe from Belfast City Airport.[4] In 2020, the airport handled fewer than 550,000 passengers, having peaked at 2.7 million in 2010.[2] The airport serves as a regional base for Aer Lingus and British Airways, who are the largest operators there. Ground handling is provided by Swissport[5] and Menzies Aviation,[6] the latter also offering cargo handling services.

History[edit]

Early years[edit]

Sydenham Airport was established by Shorts beside its Belfast factory at Sydenham in 1937. It was opened on 16 March 1938 by Anne Chamberlain, the wife of then British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain. The inaugural flight was to Glasgow, Scotland.[7] This became Belfast's main civilian airport from 1938 to 1939. The airfield was requisitioned by the RAF as RAF Belfast in 1941, then transferred to the Royal Navy, becoming HMS Gadwall (also known as RNAS Belfast or RNAS Sydenham) in 1943.[8] RAF Nutts Corner then became Belfast's main airport (while Aldergrove would later become the primary airport in Northern Ireland).

In 1952, the runway was extended to its present 6,000 feet (1,800 m).[7] The airfield at Sydenham continued to be used for military purposes until the 1970s (reverting to RAF Belfast in 1973 and closing in 1978),[9] including a period of use by the Fleet Air Arm as a naval aircraft storage unit. After this, 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 then with its current name). Jersey European began operations at the airport in 1988. At the time of its demise in 2020, the airline - by then called Flybe - operated a large base from the airport.[10]

Development from 2000 to 2019[edit]

A new terminal was officially opened on 3 June 2001.[7] Following major capital investment Bombardier sold the airport in 2003 for £35 million to the Spanish company Ferrovial,[11] the owner of BAA Airports. Ferrovial re-sold the airport in September 2008 for £132.5 million to ABN Amro Global Infrastructure Fund.[12]

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.[3] The renaming of the airport caused controversy, with many articles in local and national print media highlighting the mixed feelings of Belfast residents.[13] 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.[14]

In January 2010 easyJet commenced flights to London Luton, though the airline moved the route back to Belfast International in 2011.

Manx2 moved its Isle of Man service to the airport in 2010, however the airline has since ceased operations.

In January 2011 Bmibaby moved its Belfast base to the airport, in order to keep its operation under one roof with sister airline BMI.[15] 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 it has since reduced their operations to just one route.[16] Spanish carrier Vueling launched summer-seasonal flights to Barcelona in May 2015, though the route was cancelled in late 2015.[17] Dutch carrier KLM launched daily flights to Amsterdam in 2015, with flights operated by KLM Cityhopper.[18] Brussels Airlines launched flights to Brussels in 2016, though the airline axed the route in 2017.[19] 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.[20] Scottish airline Loganair commenced operations to Carlisle in 2019, followed by Dundee in 2020.[21]

2020 to present[edit]

Flybe, which operated 80% of flights at the airport, and carried over 1.6 million passengers across 14 routes, ceased operations in March 2020.[22] Subsequently, Loganair commenced flights to Aberdeen, Glasgow, and Inverness,[23] while Eastern Airways commenced flights to Cardiff and Southampton. In addition, British Airways subsidiary BA Cityflyer commenced flights to London City during 2020.[24]

In August 2020, Aer Lingus subsidiary Aer Lingus Regional established a new base at the airport, operating five aircraft to six UK destinations. In June 2021, Aer Lingus Regional operator Stobart Air ceased operations,[25] leading to the cancellation of all Aer Lingus Regional flights. Aer Lingus and British Airways commenced flights to the majority of Aer Lingus Regional's destinations from Belfast City Airport.[26]

Ryanair resumed flying from the airport after a hiatus of around 11 years, on 1 June 2021,[27] but announced in late August 2021 that it would withdraw from Northern Ireland altogether in September 2021, in protest at the UK's Air Passenger Duty, and the lack of post-Covid incentives for airlines. [28]

Expansion plans and objections[edit]

Control tower at Belfast City

As the airport is adjacent to residential areas, the issue of noise pollution is a major source of public debate. The airport has developed a noise management strategy following the making of a planning agreement, under which the airport operates, and has established operational noise abatement procedures.

The airport applied for a complete removal of the limit on the seats it could sell in 2013[29] – a key element of the 1997 planning agreement, which was designed to guard against over-expansion. As a result, numerous residents' groups formed a coalition – The Coalition Against Belfast City Airport Expansion[30] – to protest against the airport's proposed expansion plans, and to represent the views of residents at the Examination in Public held during 2006.[29]

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.[31]
  • That airlines must not offer more than 4 million seats for sale on flights from the airport per year.[31]
  • The majority of flights must approach and depart the airport over Belfast Lough (currently 52% as of April 2017),[32] rather than over the city of Belfast.[citation needed]
  • 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.[33]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

The following airlines operate regular scheduled and charter flights to and from Belfast City Airport:[4]

AirlinesDestinations
Aer Lingus Birmingham, Edinburgh, London–Heathrow, Manchester
British Airways Exeter, Glasgow,[34] Leeds/Bradford, London–City, London–Heathrow
Seasonal: Birmingham (begins 31 October 2021),[35] Newquay
Eastern Airways Cardiff, Southampton
easyJet Seasonal: London–Gatwick
KLM Amsterdam
Loganair Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness, Teesside
Vueling Seasonal: Barcelona

Statistics[edit]

Traffic figures[edit]

See source Wikidata query and sources.


Number of passengers[36] Number of movements[37] Freight
(tonnes)[2]
1997 1,285,712 37,592 1,247
1998 1,316,792 37,917 1,149
1999 1,284,148 35,781 773
2000 1,288,428 36,773 820
2001 1,192,897 35,158 509
2002 1,896,081 40,027 1,058
2003 1,975,202 34,523 1,177
2004 2,091,221 36,290 955
2005 2,237,219 40,443 516
2006 2,105,769 39,411 827
2007 2,186,993 43,022 1,057
2008 2,570,742 42,990 168
2009 2,621,763 39,330 138
2010 2,740,341 40,324 155
2011 2,397,312 41,844 457
2012 2,246,202 37,189 581
2013 2,541,759 38,051 527
2014 2,555,145 37,112 491
2015 2,692,713 41,782 551
2016 2,665,139 42,475 476
2017 2,559,846 36,332 317
2018 2,510,294 35,959 227
2019 2,445,529 34,625 196
2020 542,547 10,359 49

Busiest routes[edit]

10 busiest routes to and from Belfast City (2020)[38]
Rank Airport Total
passengers
Change
2019 / 20
1 London–Heathrow 261,777 Decrease 61%
2 Manchester 52,064 Decrease 81%
3 Birmingham 43,605 Decrease 84%
4 London–City 34,287 Decrease 84%
5 Leeds Bradford 26,110 Decrease 83%
6 Edinburgh 23,904 Decrease 84%
7 East Midlands 22,251 Decrease 84%
8 Glasgow 21,119 Decrease 85%
9 Southampton 19,959 Decrease 83%
10 Amsterdam 12,768 Decrease 76%

Ground transport[edit]

Rail[edit]

Regular train services operate into central Belfast.

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.

Car[edit]

The airport is located on the A2, Sydenham by-pass road between Belfast and Holywood.

Bus[edit]

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 ten minutes from Sydenham to Belfast City Hall. The Airporter service operates 12 coach services to the airport on weekdays as well as five coaches on Saturdays and eight coaches on Sundays to Derry.[39]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Belfast/City – EGAC[dead link]. Nats-uk.ead-it.com.
  2. ^ a b c "Aircraft and passenger traffic data from UK airports". UK Civil Aviation Authority. 16 March 2018. Archived from the original on 11 February 2017. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Best family proud of airport name". BBC News. 22 May 2006. Archived from the original on 29 April 2008. Retrieved 19 December 2011.
  4. ^ a b "Airlines and Routes". Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  5. ^ "Swissport International Ltd. - Network". Archived from the original on 24 January 2019. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  6. ^ "Menzies Aviation - Network". Archived from the original on 7 May 2015. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  7. ^ a b c "Belfast City Airport - History | About Us | Belfast City Airport". www.belfastcityairport.com. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  8. ^ "Royal Navy in World War II". History Hub Ulster. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  9. ^ "RN Air Station Belfast - Regiment History, War & Military Records & Archives". www.forces-war-records.co.uk. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  10. ^ "Belfast City bounces back". www.key.aero. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  11. ^ Spanish firm secures Northern Ireland Airport Archived 3 July 2004 at the Wayback Machine. BBC News (23 May 2003).
  12. ^ "Belfast City Airport - News | Recent Stories | Belfast City Airport". www.belfastcityairport.com. Archived from the original on 6 May 2009.
  13. ^ 'George Best Airport' splits city Archived 18 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Thescotsman.scotsman.com (22 March 2006).
  14. ^ "Ryanair to pull out of Belfast City Airport". BBC News. 31 August 2010. Archived from the original on 10 November 2018. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  15. ^ "Bmibaby reveals seven new Belfast City Airport routes". BBC News. 13 April 2011. Archived from the original on 2 December 2018. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  16. ^ "Aer Lingus confirms George Best Belfast City Airport switch". BBC News. 19 July 2012. Archived from the original on 29 January 2019. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  17. ^ "Vueling Airlines launches Belfast to Spain flights". Belfasttelegraph. Archived from the original on 2 December 2018. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  18. ^ "George Best Belfast City Airport: KLM to establish Amsterdam service". BBC News. 6 January 2015. Archived from the original on 2 December 2018. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  19. ^ "Belfast City Airport: Brussels Airlines ends service". BBC News. 31 January 2017. Archived from the original on 2 December 2018. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  20. ^ "Icelandair suspends Belfast flights for 'commercial reasons'". Belfasttelegraph. Archived from the original on 2 December 2018. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  21. ^ "Passenger flights return to Carlisle airport after 25 years". BBC News. 4 March 2019. Archived from the original on 6 March 2019. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  22. ^ "Collapsed Flybe: 'Do not travel to the airport'". BBC News Online. 5 March 2020.
  23. ^ "Scottish airline Loganair takes two Flybe routes". BBC News. 5 March 2020.
  24. ^ "British Airways to launch London City-Belfast City route". Business Traveller.
  25. ^ "Aer Lingus stops most Belfast City Airport flights after Stobart Air collapse". BBC News. 12 June 2021.
  26. ^ "George Best Belfast City Airport".
  27. ^ Davenport, Fionn (1 June 2021). "Ryanair to Serve Europe from Belfast City Airport". ITTN Ireland. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  28. ^ Canning, Margaret (24 August 2021). "Ryanair pulls out of Northern Ireland as it ends flights from Belfast airports". The Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  29. ^ a b "Examination in Public – Belfast City Airport Planning Agreement". Archived from the original on 22 May 2013. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  30. ^ Belfast City Airport Watch Archived 30 July 2012 at archive.today. Bbc.co.uk.
  31. ^ a b "Belfast City Airport curbs to be relaxed". 2 September 2008. Archived from the original on 7 May 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  32. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 February 2009. Retrieved 8 February 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  33. ^ "Belfast City Airport - George Best Belfast City Airport". belfastcityairport.com.
  34. ^ "New British Airways Services Take off from Belfast with Routes to Exeter, Leeds Bradford, Newquay and Glasgow".
  35. ^ "British Airways Extends ITS UK Destinations This Winter".
  36. ^ Number of Passengers, Freight and Mail include both domestic and international counterparts.
  37. ^ Number of Movements represents total air transport takeoffs and landings during that year.
  38. ^ "Airport Data 2020". UK Civil Aviation Authority. 6 June 2021. Tables 12.1(XLS) and 12.2 (XLS). Archived from the original on 15 September 2020. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  39. ^ "Airporter Winter Timetable - Valid from 26th October 2014". Airporter. Archived from the original on 28 September 2014. Retrieved 4 June 2015.

External links[edit]

Media related to Belfast City Airport at Wikimedia Commons