Budget airline Ryanair’s decision to pull out from George Best City Airport in Belfast will disappoint retailers in the city and other parts of the country, it has been suggested.
According to the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) CEO, Glyn Roberts, the carrier’s withdrawal from the nation’s main airport will have a negative impact on the country’s economy as a whole.
World Duty Free and WHSmith are among the retailers residing in the airport’s terminal building that may be affected by the company’s imminent departure.
Roberts said: “Struggling retailers will be disappointed that the loss of these routes will mean fewer customers from other parts of the UK.
“Air routes such as these are absolutely vital for Northern Ireland developing its tourist potential and as a location for major UK conferences. We simply cannot afford to lose them.
“In addition as a local resident who lives beside the Belfast City Airport, I recognise it plays a crucial role in supporting both the local economy in east Belfast and the region as a whole and I hope that the Northern Ireland Executive will support them in their efforts to find new carriers for these routes.”
Ryanair, which has been at Belfast City Airport since October 2007, announced yesterday that it will close base there on Sunday October 31st 2010.
The decision was prompted by the airport’s confirmation that a public inquiry into the promised runway extension will be further delayed, which prevents the carrier from rolling out services to more European destinations.
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said: “It makes no sense for Ryanair to continue to invest in Belfast City, operating restricted routes with less than full payloads between Belfast and other UK airports, unless there is clear and immediate prospect of Ryanair being enabled to safely operate longer European routes from Belfast City Airport.”