Following extensive evaluation of growth opportunities throughout Europe, Aer Lingus has announced its first base outside the Republic of Ireland at Belfast International Airport. Three A320 aircraft will be based at BFS and will primarily serve London Heathrow and Amsterdam Schiphol. Additional short haul routes will be announced shortly. The new base gives the potential for up to one million new passengers per year and will comprise a total investment of €150 million. Over 100 new jobs will be created directly through local recruitment of pilots and cabin crew.
Aer Lingus is committed to profitable growth and maximising the use of its available resources to deliver value for all of its stakeholders. The Company currently has a fixed number of valuable slots at Heathrow Airport. In order to provide direct BFS to Heathrow services, Aer Lingus will transfer slots that are currently being utilised for Shannon to Heathrow services. In the current climate, Aer Lingus believes the Belfast Heathrow services present an accelerated growth opportunity, using its available fleet and slot resources.
The schedule, which will be announced later today, will provide customers with flights from BFS to Heathrow and Schiphol at times that connect with a range of international long-haul departures by both BA and KLM. The Heathrow service will be operated in conjunction with our codeshare partner, BA.
Commenting on the announcement today, Aer Lingus Chief Executive Dermot Mannion said “The opening of our new base at BFS is a significant and ground-breaking move for Aer Lingus. This decision reflects our commitment to delivering profitable growth, low fares for customers and value for shareholders. The timing of our entry into the market enables us to capitalise on a strong commercial opportunity and also encourages the growing economic relationship between the north and south of the island of Ireland”.
He added ” Belfast is becoming an increasingly popular destination for visitors from all over the world. Belfast International Airport is the ideal location for the new Aer Lingus base, offering 24/7, all-weather operations and long runways capable of accommodating all current and future Aer Lingus development potential. A new base in BFS provides Aer Lingus with the opportunity to grow by providing customers with additional choice and low fares to European destinations”