Passenger numbers rise at NI airports

Image caption Belfast International Airport is the biggest airport in Northern Ireland

The number of passengers travelling from airports in Northern Ireland has risen by almost 30% over the last five years.

New figures show that last year almost nine million passengers travelled through NI airports.

That is a 29% rise on passenger numbers at the region’s three airports since 2013.

Two million more passengers used Belfast International alone last year than in 2013.

Overall, more than 6.2 million travellers used the international airport in 2018, according to the Civil Aviation Authority figures.

“Increasing our passenger numbers by more than 2.2 million in just five years is an impressive achievement,” a spokeswoman for the International airport said.

“Of course, much more could be achieved without the burden of Air Passenger Tax (APD) and we will continue with our campaign to get rid of this hugely unfair tax that places Northern Ireland airports at an enormous disadvantage to the Republic of Ireland where no similar tax applies.”

Image caption City of Derry Airport is owned by Derry City and Strabane Council

The number of passengers that have used City of Derry Airport has halved over the last five years.

Figures show that between 2013 and 2018, the numbers using the council-owned airport have fallen from nearly 385,000 in 2013, to nearly 186,000 in 2018.

An airport spokeswoman said the decline is a result of reduced capacity following the withdrawal of Ryanair’s London-Stansted service.

The Irish airline formerly operated a route between the airport and Stansted but axed the flights in March 2017.

“Operations of a double daily public service obligation route to London-Stansted commenced in May 2017, offering more frequency to London-Stansted but less capacity than the previous operator,” she said.

At George Best City airport, there was a fractional drop in passenger numbers between 2013 (2.54 million passengers) and 2018 (2.51 million passengers).

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