Ryanair to fly in and out of Belfast?

Good news for O’Leary fans, Ryanair are going to fly from the George Best City airport to Glasgow, Liverpool and the East Midlands. After a shaky start Ryanair has developed more of a reputation for reliability in recent years. They’d be well advised to double check the facilities and the schedules being made available to them.

  • Aaron S

    I’m more excited about Aer Lingus flying Heathrow to Aldergrove. Is going to make my life a lot easier/cheaper.

  • Frank Sinistra

    I more interested in a shoddy employer that harasses staff who wish to be represented by a Union setting up shop here.

  • slug

    If true that Aer Lingus has chosen Aldergrove as its UK hub then that will be very good news in terms of high-quality international connections.

  • Paddy

    You say Glasgow, but actually it’s Prestwick. By the time you get there from Glasgow you’re halfway to Belfast.

  • mnob

    It seems a bit strange that ryanair chose to fly to routes already well served from belfast (liverpool & ‘glasgow’ from the City and the International, and East Midlands from the International).

    Especially as the ‘taxes and fees’ (sic) at the City are substantially higher than at Aldergrove, and it looks like one flight a day. Im not sure what they hope to achieve. Are they out to get flymaybe ?

  • Fraggle

    Great news, hopefully some flights to the mainland will follow these british ones.

    Paddy, Prestwick may not be as close to Glasgow as the airport at Paisley but it is on the strathclyde regional train line. It’s handier for glasgow than aldergrove is for belfast.

  • Crataegus

    Good news on all fronts.

    I hate Dublin airport, if any of you think City is bad try Dublin during the holiday period. If we got our act in gear good possibility of taking some trade North but then perhaps not. Problems yet again with UK tax structure!

    Still think Air Berlin is hard to beat.

  • Taff

    Great news for Belfast!

    As a fellow Celt, it is gratifying to observe the arrival of successful Irish carriers in the city’s airports; and the prospect of exciting new destinations in Europe and possibly America.

  • It’s about time BFS got a full service link to LHR again. It always seemed ridiculous that you couldn’t fly from NI’s largest airport to London unless you stood in line for ages in order to fly Cattle Class with Sleazyjet to Luton (ugh) or Stansted (excluding the odd one to Gatwick). Even though Heathrow is a hellhole it’s still more useful for connections than the other 3 airports put together. I also hope BA makes a return as I recently rediscovered how good their LHR-EDI shuttles are.

    As for Ryanair coming to BHD, best of luck folks. Every time I pass the infernal queues at Ryanair check-in desks at Stansted I thank my lucky stars that I’m flying elsewhere. Also, Prestwick ain’t “Glasgow” although it’s nice for Ayrshire and its seaside towns, which see visiting performances from megastars like Hugo Duncan. Besides, Glasgow Airport is finally getting its rail-link into Central Station which means a 10 minute max journey, so why go to Prestwick.

    Crataegus

    I’ve never travelled Air Berlin, why is it so good?

  • Hold on a moment. I’m entering Trowbridge H.Ford parapolitics/spookfinder mode.

    [1] Not too long ago (April 11th?) Ryanair’s O’Leary went big, suggesting that a subsidiary airline would enter the long-haul market:

    He said: ‘By mid-2009 we will be carrying 70 million passengers at 23 bases across Europe.

    ‘It will be relatively straightforward for us to do a deal for 40 to 50 long-haul aircraft to connect these bases transatlantically.’

    [2] He specifically named three US airports: Baltimore (BWI), Providence (Rhode Island) and Long Island Islip Macarthur (New York). Of these three only BWI has a runway for “unlimited” aircraft: the other two have 7,000ft/2,000+m strips.

    I’m a neophyte on longhaul requirements, but guess that 7,000ft is minimal (at best).

    Prestwick has a main runway of nearly 3,000m (in the UK&NI, only LHR, LGW, STD and MAN are longer), and seems under-used (about 1.9m passengers a year).

    As I recall the original O’Leary story, some doubt was cast on whether he was serious, or whether this was a distractor (he had denied any interest in transatlantic operations only a few months previously).

    However, would Prestwick would be a useful (and cheap? It’s not BAA) transatlantic exit for O’Leary?

    [3] There’s been a bit of chatter about the Ryanair/BHD option for the last few days (see
    http://p078.ezboard.com/Birmingham-or-Belfast/fdublinairportforumfrm2.showMessage?topicID=1272.topic).

    The really interesting ones were these:
    [Ryanair] has a minimum runway requirement of 6,000′ and BHD beats it by a foot; the 737-800 is quite a good runway performer and since the routes from BHD are likely to be pretty short range, I wouldn’t see a major concern. BHD’s runway is shorter than Derry’s, but only by 77′! … (with further comment) Ryanair are restricted in Derry Airport. They only sell a max of 140 (or 149 can’t remember exactly) out of the possible 189 seats, and this is also after factoring in two things [more powerful engines and winglets to improve lift.] Umm: didn’t know that last bit. Not sure I feel better to have heard it.

    More immediately, though, Ryanair are merely exploiting the gap in the market left by BA and BMI. I see that now Aer Fungus have sorted the balance-sheet, they want in on the act. The more the merrier!

  • And there’s a full thread going on the “Pilot Prune” (hey! am I the only geriatric who has heard of PO P Prune and PO Prang?) site. It seems to have useful guesses and insider gossip on Aer Lingus developing a hub at Aldergrove and going BFS/LHR.

    Now, if only someone would open a BFS/NYC route at an affordable price.

    Try http://www.pprune.org/forums/showthread.php?t=281462

  • qubol

    Watchman – Air Berlin have decent prices, their service is excellent. I brought 36kgs of bags over last time and no extra charge. In general they are just way more accommodating and you get a free drink and snack on board and a newspaper.

  • Animus

    Air Berlin – If you travel with a child, they give the child a toy plane, unlike most other airlines.

    I can’t imagine flying Ryanair, I’ve heard so many complaints; cancelled flights, charges for wheelchair users, etc. Having said that Aer Lingus used to be fairly luxurious and now it’s rather mediocre.

    As for Glasgow/Prestwick – same issue in Belfast. Aldergrove is inconvenient, miles from anywhere, and expensive to park. The BHD/LHR connection is considerably more convenient. It takes as long to drive from Aldergrove to city centre as it does to fly to London.

  • Crataegus

    Watchman

    Air Berlin is good value, offers a good service and they care about their customers. They go out of their way to accommodate and are more flexible than most budget airlines.

    There seems to be about 75mm more leg room than say RyanAir. All seats are allocated and you don’t get that RyanAir stampede. You can also book a seat in advance (costs extra) but long legs and isle seats are attractive.

    On the flights I have been on, check in has been very fast, and the attitude of the staff excellent. All flights have been on time; tend to leave slightly late but arrive on time? The planes are clean, spotlessly clean. Also the airline often flies to the main airports and not the Biggles set-ups of RyanAir. This is very important if you are flying on though. (I must confess I like the small airports if on holiday. They have a casual informal charm). AirBerlin does through flights and apparently their planes will wait for a late connection and transferring passengers though haven’t direct experience.

    You can change bookings up to 24hours before a flight without cost, book 2 hours before a flight etc. They are flexible. This is important for a business user. Prices quoted are inclusive of all taxes instead of that other nonsense.

    You get a sandwich or some food and I prefer that arrangement as I may be in a hurry at the other end. Also you get some sweets and a newspaper which may be in German. Oh the safety procedure may be a computer generated effort so the staff can get on with other things. The staff look after unaccompanied children, disabled and the elderly. All very German, but that is what you want on an airline The staff are very good, very very good!

    The best way I can sum up the difference is I would consider Air Berlin as a business option, but there is no way in Gods Earth would I consider RyanAir in that category. Air Berlin care about their customers O’Leary seems to regard them with contempt. I would hate to rely on RyanAir if things went wrong. You do get the feeling that O’Leary would happily abandon you in darkest Transylvania, Air Berlin would not. I was once delayed in traffic on route to an airport, phoned in advising I was on route, (actually seeing if I should book another flight) was told to ask for someone when I arrived. They were expecting me and I was rushed through check-in and down to boarding. Can’t see that happening with RyanAir.

    Maybe it is my imagination, but there seems to be an entirely different ethos running this Airline and it reflects in the attitude of the staff. I think they are good value and wish they went further afield.

    I would happily pay a bit more and fly with these people. A flight to Berlin is about 70 Euro if you book a few months in advance give it a go.

  • Thank you for that comprehensive recommendation, Crataegus. You aren’t an Air Berlin shareholder are you?!

  • Briso

    Posted by Malcolm Redfellow on Jul 25, 2007 @ 05:57 PM
    The really interesting ones were these:
    [Ryanair] has a minimum runway requirement of 6,000’ and BHD beats it by a foot; the 737-800 is quite a good runway performer and since the routes from BHD are likely to be pretty short range, I wouldn’t see a major concern. BHD’s runway is shorter than Derry’s, but only by 77’! … (with further comment) Ryanair are restricted in Derry Airport. They only sell a max of 140 (or 149 can’t remember exactly) out of the possible 189 seats, and this is also after factoring in two things [more powerful engines and winglets to improve lift.] Umm: didn’t know that last bit. Not sure I feel better to have heard it.

    Is BHD’s runway shorter than Derry’s is now or shorter than it will be after the extension over Donnybrook? The Derry flights are definitely restricted in numbers, I was on one last week.
    When will the vesting process be complete and when will the runway be extended?

  • Briso

    Oops, Donnybrewer, not Donnybrook.

  • Briso

    OK, I appear to be talking to myself again, but the vesting is to allow a longer run-off area which will in turn allow the incoming aircraft to sell all seats. The runway itself will not be extended.

    http://www.drdni.gov.uk/report_of_inquiry_into_vesting_at_city_of_derry_airport.doc

  • Briso @ 09:49 AM:

    No: serious monologues are not allowed on Slugger.

    The PPrune forums to which I referred will tell you the professional gossip (which is all I have to go on). The Belfast thread (where City is the main point) is http://www.pprune.org/forums/showthread.php?t=281462.

    There is a parallel thread on http://www.pprune.org/forums/showthread.php?t=281462, concerned with Derry.

    These PPrune forums seems to be a curious mixture of professionals and clueless amateurs asking daft questions (it was ever thus). As for the LDY thing, they seem to know no more than we: that Conor Murphy has signed the vesting order. However, other contributors imply that LDY are in a race against time: loading factors are poor (see my previous post), and the mood-music is that Ryanair are restless.

    Inevitably there is a lot of in-group talk, and I found a small but significant learning curve on decoding the acronyms. I was amused to find that, as a mere cattle-class peasant, I am SLF — “self-loading freight”. The something-new-everyday that keeps the Alzheimer’s at bay.

  • Alan

    And on the other side of this, what about the additional noise and dirt that these damn flights bring to Belfast.

    I was sitting in the garden two nights ago and could hear neither the kids nor the radio for extended periods, they were coming in so low. The same thing happens every night after 6 p.m.. If they are to start coming in after 9.00 the kids won’t even get to sleep. Time to reassess the balance of flights and noise.

  • GavBelfast

    “As for Glasgow/Prestwick – same issue in Belfast. Aldergrove is inconvenient, miles from anywhere, and expensive to park.”

    Sounds a bit like the Maze will be.

    😉

  • BonarLaw

    Why in the name of god would anyone who needed to be anywhere on time choose Ryan Air? I can honestly say the only time I used them with any success was flying to Biaritz from Stanstead for a stag do when I was too beered up to care about the filthy plane or three hour delay.

    For business in London first choice is Air Berlin to Stanstead then BMI to Heathrow (only because someone else picks up the tab for the Heathrow Express to Paddington).

  • Crataegus

    Watchman

    No don’t own any of their shares.

    Most airlines are quite well run and most flights are boring and uneventful no matter what air line. All airports look much the same and the inside of planes isn’t anything to get excited about. On longer flights space and ability to work become an issue.

    From time to time things go wrong, often through on fault of the airline. I judge an airline on how their staff are likely to cope with the difficulties that sometimes arise, like luggage being sent to Delhi instead of Madras or flights delayed and missing connections.

    Ryan air has a simple policy of cheap no frills flights and for the vast majority of flights that works. They do cheap well. However we have had a series of interviews and statements from the owner which clearly indicate his view of his customers. I could be wrong, but I can’t see our vocal friend admitting to any liability if anything goes wrong and to my mind that just isn’t good enough. In the long run it is bad for business.

    My experiences with Air Berlin have been good, but who knows others may have had bad times. I think they are better managed and it shows.

  • Crataegus

    Alan

    And on the other side of this, what about the additional noise and dirt that these damn flights bring to Belfast.

    I agree with you and believe we should be trying to encourage the use of Aldergrove, but to do that will require investment enlargement and proper rail connections.

  • Jamie Gargoyle

    I first heard rumours of Ryanair flying into the Harbour airport in 2002, so I assume it’ll be another five years before they put in a route to London. Not that I necessarily want to fly with them, but a bit of extra competition to stop easyJet and Air Berlin nudging fares up wouldn’t go amiss.

    I’ve concluded that the worst bit of flying these days regardless of carrier (though I’m the first to point out that Ryanair are significantly worse than easyJet) is the airport, not the airline. Despite having grown up in the days when you couldn’t get in the door of Aldergrove without being searched, I’m finding the security at all airports ever more unpleasant and discourteous. I also like the way you’ve now got to buy the resealable plastic bags for all your terrorist related toothpaste and contact lens fluid paraphernalia – I presume when security policy changes we’ll be expected to bring our own Marigolds for the body cavity searches…

    Just a shame the government won’t stop lining the pockets of the private train companies and use the money to build/upgrade high speed routes to make train/ferry a realistic alternative to flying as regards journey time – I’ve got to the point that I’d pay extra just to avoid the airports…

  • Dr Strangelove

    I would not fly with airline which chooses to charge disabled passengers for the use of wheelchairs from/to the lounge and the aircraft…. an absolute fucking disgrace.

  • John East Belfast

    Just shows the complete cynicism of the ROI based business men’s letter to Vardy – as promoted by the Independent News Media’s own Belfast Telegraph – to get NI corporate Taxation on a power with the ROI.

    Having O’Leary sign it – who we all know does not care a toss about the Northern Ireland economy – has let the cat out of the bag.

    All he wants to do is pay less tax to UK Exchequer so he can re-patriate more home.

    I read they intend to generate £40m of Turnover on these Belfast Routes and even at a modest 5% Net margin they would be hoping to save on – 28% v 12.5% – a whopping £300k of UK Corporation Tax.

    ie earning Profits from NI based customers and then taking the taking as much as possible back home.

    I am amazed Quigley is not being hounded by some investigative journalists about the signatories of the letter the other day which clearly had the interests of ROI Corporate plc in mind rather than the NI Economy.

  • eranu

    (only because someone else picks up the tab for the Heathrow Express to Paddington).

    get the ‘heathrow connect’ train, it goes to paddington too but is only £6.90. i was on it a few weeks ago, it stops at a few stations but doesnt add much to the journey time. the heathrow express is a complete rip off at £15.

  • manichaeism

    John East Belfast

    Michael O’Leary dosen’t care about the Northern Ireland economy.
    He dosen’t care about the Republic of Ireland economy.
    He just wants to make money. I know some people regard that as a terrible motive but as far as I know it’s the only reason that anyone goes into business.

  • Jamie Gargoyle @ 12:14 PM:

    Deep, heavy sigh.

    Doesn’t all this add poignancy to the 2003 closure of the Antrim-Lisburn (the Knockmore line) railway link? One of the causes of the closure was the shortage of rolling stock, which of course was why the service was so bad, which of course was why so few used the line.

    I notice that Thomas Burns was raising the matter on the Assembly adjournment debate earlier this month (2nd July): see http://www.theyworkforyou.com/ni/?id=2007-07-02.5.1&s=speaker:13772.

    He was given pretty strong cross-party support, and the reply from the Minister, Conor Murphy, was a cold-fish, civil-service brief, but less than totally dismissive. The line has not been “closed”, it has been “moth-balled”.

    The bare bones are that restoring the line is costed at £35M, with another £1M for a “halt” to service Aldergrove.

    Conor Murphy, prompted by David Ford, corrected himself to say that a direct rail link becomes viable with an annual airport use of 10m passengers. Aldergrove (according to the Belfast Telegraph of 10th May) is used by 5m a year, which is increasing by 10% year-on-year. That means the 10m figure should be passed in no more than seven years: time to start planning now, surely.

    Then there was the Air Route Development Fund, which injected £4m of funding from 2002, but was wound up at the end of last year. Has that bit of pocket money been rolled up in all the bunce that has been promised for NI development?

    Does anyone have any updates on improving Aldergrove access? If voices like Alan @ 11.02 and GavBelfast @ 11.20 are anything to go by, it is a topic worth exploring.

  • Crataegus

    Malcolm

    If they were clever and did a bit of rezoning the whole venture could be self financing. The sums involved are relatively small. The problem is they are looking at development one issue at a time instead of having some overall vision. Build a few more towns along the rail track, make it a commuter loop and all the rest of it, do it right and the traffic and money will be generated. It isn’t just a connection to an airport but a train service serving Antrim, Lisburn and Belfast and all stops between. The start of Belfast’s Dart service!

    If they did it properly, with trains and PROPER rail connection they could attract trade from the south. Dublin Airport is a bit of a dive especially during busy periods.

    Still don’t understand why the City Airport hasn’t a proper rail connection. Stupid, utterly stupid. Landing in Belfast is like arriving in bongo bongo land.

  • Harry Flashman

    **I would not fly with airline which chooses to charge disabled passengers for the use of wheelchairs from/to the lounge and the aircraft…. an absolute fucking disgrace.**

    The problem is that Ryanair does NOT charge disabled people for the use of wheelchairs, the airport does. Ryanair merely passes on the charge to the customer.

    Now, if you object to wheelchair bound passengers being charged for the wheelchair then fine, excellent, I agree with you, but have the decency to express your anger against the people doing the charging – the airport – not the people who resent having to pass on the charge.

    Or do you feel that BAA is some form of beneficent charitable organisation beyond criticism whilst Ryanair is the devil incarnate?

  • Turgon

    Malcolm Redfellow,
    “Doesn’t all this add poignancy to the 2003 closure of the Antrim-Lisburn (the Knockmore line) railway link?”

    I have no issue with the above but I do remember the irritation as a student of going on the train home at the weekend and going in fairly close to exactly the wrong direction to Lisburn when you wanted to go north. It took 90 minutes to get to Ballymoney station from memory when I could drive home in 1 hour. The trains were horribly cold in winter and kept breaking down even when there were no bombs on the line. Have the train times etc improved? The trains certainly look a lot better. I feel a bit bad but I do not think I have used a train here since I left university.

    A train form Aldergrove does sound like a very straight forwardly good idea.

  • Crataegus @ 04:10 PM
    Turgon @ 05:46 PM

    Forgive my total bestaggerment to be in agreement.

    As I dimly recall, there was serious talk of a Belfast, Lisburn, Antrim loop some years back; and it makes such frightening sense to develop communities along that route that it inevitably won’t happen. Imagine the way the PR boys could sell “lough-side living at Glenavy, just 40 minutes from the City centre”! Of course, it might, just might also service any stadium, or whatever at the Maze site.

    May I totally concur with the opinion of Dublin Airport? There cannot be much in the air transport of the Western World to match the hells that are Luton and Dublin. In both places the unfortunate traveller hikes across half a county from check-in to departure gate. After my last experience of Ryanair’s Portacabins at Dublin, I swore never again.

    The best Belfast Central to Dublin Connolly service is now well within two hours: on a bad day that’s not disproportionate to the miserable hour it takes for the Dublin airport bus service (advertised as “about 35 minutes”) to make it to/from the south quays. It doesn’t take a genius to feel that Aldergrove, given a decent rail spur, has a lot going for it for long- and middle-distance flights.

    Let me repeat myself: the Knockmore line (the Antrim/Lisburn link) was sacrificed largely because NIRail was unable to sustain other services and redeployed the rolling stock. The argument that the line closed because of low passenger demand is specious: the passenger demand could not be there because the service was totally inadequate and unreliable.

    There was a Competition Commission report on NIRail back in 1990 (I think: don’t hold me to that precise date), when things were, well, none too bright. However, even then there was blue-sky thinking of electrification and urban light-rail systems. Time to revisit all that?

    One of the tasks the Assembly should be addressing already is the way the Belfast metropolitan transport is managed (and that means everything within commuting distance). Five years time is going to be too late, and damnably more expensive. The other thread, which complained about Belfast housing costs and availability, is symptomatic of the same problem.

  • sportsman

    Ryanair do not make additional charges for wheelchair users. The airports do. No fan of OLearys but fairs fair.