Belfast International Airport was the second best performing airport in the UK during 2012, according to passenger figures released by the Civil Aviation Authority. The airport increased passenger numbers by 5% – 215,000 in real terms – during the year, beaten only by Aberdeen (8%), but ahead of Manchester (4.5%).
The list of the UK’s top 20 commercial airports also shows Belfast International beating Glasgow and Birmingham during a period of unremitting economic challenges.
Belfast International’s growth – still one million down from the peak of 2008 – would have been even greater if it hadn’t been for Dublin Airport’s ‘marketing move’ into the Northern Ireland market, which accounted for over one million lost passenger journeys through NI airports.
Uel Hoey, Belfast International Airport’s Business Development Director, said: “Despite challenging conditions in the aviation sector and the wider economy, Belfast International Airport has demonstrated strong growth, in excess of 7.5% over the last three years. We have seen signs of recovery in the business travel market, and tour operators and airlines continue to offer great value flight and holiday options.
“There is a strong foundation to our business and clear evidence of network growth opportunities. Our key targets remain securing services to Canada and Asia, as well as key additional routes into mainland Europe, all pivotal for economic and social development in Northern Ireland.
“We expect current growth trends to continue throughout 2013. We will continue to work closely with local government departments to promote the business case for these vital links in our discussions with existing and potential airline partners.”