Belfast International Airport

Belfast International Airport

Infobox Airport
name = Belfast International Airport

type = Public
owner = TBI plc
operator = Belfast International Airport Ltd.
city-served = Belfast
location = Aldergrove, County Antrim
elevation-f = 268
elevation-m = 82
coordinates = coord|54|39|27|N|006|12|57|W|type:airport
website = []
metric-rwy = Y
r1-number = 07/25
r1-length-f = 9,121
r1-length-m = 2,780
r1-surface = Asphalt
r2-number = 17/35
r2-length-f = 6,204
r2-length-m = 1,891
r2-surface = Asphalt
stat-year = 2007
stat1-header = Aircraft Movements
stat1-data = 77,652
stat2-header = Passengers
stat2-data = 5,272,644
footnotes = Source: AIP at NATS
Statistics from the UK CAA. [ Aircraft movements 2006] ] [ Terminal passengers 2006] ]

Belfast International Airport airport codes|BFS|EGAA is an airport located 21 kilometres (13 miles) northwest of Belfast in Northern Ireland. It is also known as Aldergrove, after the village of that name lying immediately to the west of the airport. Belfast International shares its runways with the Royal Air Force base RAF Aldergrove, which otherwise has its own facilities.Nearly 5.3 million passengers (2.2% of passengers at all UK airports) travelled through the airport in 2007, a 1.7 million (47.4%) increase since 2002. Belfast International is the 2nd busiest airport in the Island in terms of passenger numbers, after Dublin Airport and it is the busiest airport in the province of Ulster. It is the larger of two airports in Belfast (the other being George Best Belfast City Airport). There are 48 scheduled destinations served from the airport, with 16 domestic services and 32 European and transatlantic services.Transatlantic flights include Newark, Orlando, and Toronto. There are charter and inclusive tour flights to Africa, Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico, the USA and many European destinations.

The airport is a major base for easyJet and, with other airlines including bmibaby, First Choice Airways and Thomas Cook Airlines also having a large presence. In December 2007, Aer Lingus opened a base at the airport, operating to four destinations as of January 2008, and by March 2008 the airline will have a total of ten destinations with three aircraft based at the airport.

The airport is owned by TBI plc, the same company which owns London Luton Airport, Cardiff International Airport and Orlando Sanford International Airport.

Belfast International has a CAA Public Use Aerodrome Licence (Number P798) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction.



The site for the airport was established in 1917 when it was selected to be a Royal Flying Corps training establishment during the First World War. The airport remained open at the end of the war for RAF activity.

Civil traffic began in 1922 when flights were conducted flying newspapers from Chester, although it was not until 1933 that a regular, sustained civil air service started. The flight was to Glasgow and was operated by Midland and Scottish Air Ferries. This was subsequently augmented by flights to the Isle of Man, Liverpool and Croydon, then London’s airport.

During the Second World War, Aldergrove remained an RAF base particularly for the Coastal Command. So that the airport could accommodate larger, long-range aircraft, a major works programme was undertaken to replace the four existing runways with two new long paved runways, thereby forming the basis of the layout that still exists at the airport today.


One of the outcomes of the wartime airfield construction programme was the building of Nutts Corner Airport, just three miles (5 km) from Aldergrove. On 1 December 1946 the new site replaced Belfast Harbour Airport (now Belfast City Airport) as Northern Ireland’s civil airport, as the site at Sydenham was considered unsuitable.

By the 1950s civil air traffic had outstripped the facilities at Nutts Corner and, in addition, aircraft were being regularly diverted to Aldergrove because of adverse weather conditions. In July 1959 the decision was made to move civil flights to Aldergrove to take advantage of the large airfield and this took place in October 1963.

A new terminal and apron were built with the necessary passenger facilities and the complex was opened by Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother on 28 October 1963. In 1966 the first regular jet service to Gatwick started and in 1968 Aer Lingus and BOAC introduced scheduled services to New York via Shannon and Prestwick respectively.


In 1971 Northern Ireland Airports Limited was formed to operate and develop the airport and its facilities. A major programme of airfield upgrades was undertaken resulting in improvements to runways, taxiways and the parking apron.

A new International Pier was built together with lounge facilities and car parks, while an additional apron was provided to separate the smaller general aviation aircraft from large commercial jets. In the meantime, British Airways launched the first Belfast to Heathrow shuttle service, and the first Boeing 747 operated from the airport on a charter service to Toronto via Shannon. The first scheduled service to a European city was started by NLM Cityhopper (now KLM Cityhopper) flying to Amsterdam.

In 1983 the airport, renamed Belfast International, was regularly accommodating the largest civil aircraft in service, and with the installation of new technology was capable of all weather operations. In 1985 passenger numbers reached 1.5 million and BMI went into competition with British Airways on the Heathrow service. Further developments to the Terminal occurred throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s. A new Executive Aviation Terminal was opened in 1987 and the new cargo centre opened in 1991.

The airport was privatised in 1994. TBI became the new owners of the airport on 13 August 1996, by which time annual passenger numbers had reached 2.5 million.

1998 to date

In 1998 EasyJet started operations from the airport with flights to London Luton. Since then the airline has established a large base at Belfast International and a further eight domestic routes and 15 direct European scheduled routes have been added to the network, making the airline the largest user of the airport. cite web |url= | title=easyJet Route Map | work=easyJet ]

In 2005 Continental Airlines launched the first ever direct scheduled service to New York (Newark), and direct scheduled services were later introduced to Vancouver with Zoom Airlines but has now ceased following the carriers demise in August 2008.

In December 2007 Aer Lingus opened a base at Belfast International, its third hub (and first outside the Republic of Ireland). By March 2008 three Airbus A320 aircraft were based at the airport serving nine Aer Lingus routes from Belfast, and the airline has restored the link between Belfast International and London Heathrow Airport which was abandoned by British Airways. [cite web |url= | title=Belfast International Airport lands Aer Lingus | work=Belfast International Airport Press Office | accessdate= 2007-12-06 ]

The additional flights are expected to help push total passengers at Belfast International beyond 6 million in 2008. [cite web |url= | title=We have lift-off! | work=Belfast Telegraph | accessdate= 2007-12-10 ]

Facts and figures

*86% of passengers at Belfast fly scheduled flights, with 14% on charter flights.
*26% of passengers from Belfast International are business flyers. This equates to 1.2 million business passengers per annum. Fact|date=February 2007
*The airport operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is not subject to noise abatement procedures, significant environmental constraints or airspace limitations.
*It is the third largest regional air cargo centre in the UK. [ UK Airport Freight Analysis 2006] ]
*The busiest UK destination is London (3 airports combined), followed by Liverpool. [ UK Airport Statistics: 2007 - annual | Data | Economic Regulation ] ] "'
*The busiest continental European destination is Palma. "'
*The busiest transatlantic destination is Newark (New York) "'


Nearly 5.3 million passengers used Belfast International in 2007 , the highest total in the Airport's history. The Airport is the busiest in Northern Ireland, having experienced steady growth in passenger numbers, aircraft movements and freight throughput over the last 10 years. Since 1997 passenger numbers have increased by an average of 11.3% annually.

About the airport

*Domestic Success: Due to Northern Ireland's relative isolation to the rest of the United Kingdom, about two of every five flights in and out of the airport are destined for England, Scotland or Wales. EasyJet, the airport's largest operator, flies to seven UK cities, each served between three and eight times daily. has two routes to the UK, Leeds-Bradford and Blackpool. Due to high demand, will increase the frequency of the service to Leeds-Bradford to three times daily. The Isle Of Man has also become a popular destination form both Belfast International and Belfast City Airport. Manx2 has increased the frequency of the service to twice daily. Bmibaby operate four routes which operate between two and four times daily. The recent base set up at the airport by Aer Lingus will revive direct service from the airport to London Heathrow from 14 January 2008, with three flights per day, increasing to four flights per day in March 2008.

*Continental Europe success: EasyJet is the largest airline at Belfast International, service 15 destinations in Europe(outside the UK) from Belfast . With over three million passengers traveling through their Belfast base per year, it has become one of EasyJet’s fastest growing bases, and now accounts for 19% of EasyJet’s entire network. also operate flights to Europe, operating to destinations such as Tenerife, Las Palmas and Malaga. In September 2007 Wizz Air announced two new routes from the airport to Warsaw and Katowice. Aer Lingus serves nine European destinations from Belfast International; Amsterdam, Barcelona and Geneva, Budapest, Malaga, Nice, Rome, Paris and Faro. [cite web |url= | title=Aer Lingus Route Map | work=Aer lingus ]

*Transatlantic success: In its first year of operation Continental Airlines carried approximately 85,000 passengers on its Belfast-Newark route, exceeding the 70,000 target set by the airline for the first year of operation. This led to an increase in the frequency from five five flights a week to seven due to demand. The daily service operates from March to October, with six times weekly service in winter months. Zoom Airlines announced in February 2006 that their route to Toronto had been "hugely successful" and that direct scheduled flights would occur all year round. June 2006 also saw the first direct scheduled service from Belfast to Vancouver Fact|date=October 2007. Flyglobespan announced that it will increase the frequency of its scheduled service from Belfast to Orlando to two flights a week.Fact|date=October 2007. Weekly flights occur in the winter season using Boeing 757 aircraft, however by Summer 2008 they will return to use the Boeing 767 aircraft. By Summer 2008 three airlines will operate services to Toronto ,resulting in 5 weekly departures to Toronto and Hamilton (outskirts). Air Transat and Zoom Airlines will operate two weekly services each to Toronto-Pearson and Flyglobespan announced recently it will recommence a weekly service to Toronto-Hamilton throughout the summer months. Fact|date=December 2007. Thomas Cook Airlines operates A330 aircraft on regular charter flights to Las Vegas, Orlando, Puerto Plata and Cancun.

*Transatlantic failure: On 28th August 2008 Zoom Airlines filed for administration and ceased all flights including Belfast to Toronto.

Airlines and destinations

cheduled Airlines & Destinations

*Air Transat
**operated by Skyservice Airlines (Toronto-Pearson)
*Aer Lingus (Amsterdam, Arrecife, Barcelona, Budapest [seasonal] , Faro [seasonal] , London-Heathrow, Málaga, Milan-Malpensa [begins 28 October] , Munich [begins 28 October] , Nice [seasonal] , Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Rome-Fiumicino)
*bmibaby (Birmingham, Cardiff, East Midlands, Manchester)
*Continental Airlines (Newark)
*easyJet (Alicante, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin-Schönefeld, Bristol, Edinburgh, Faro, Geneva, Glasgow-International, Ibiza [seasonal] , Krakow, Liverpool, London-Gatwick, London-Luton, London-Stansted, Málaga, Newcastle, Nice, Palma de Mallorca, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Prague, Venice)
*Flyglobespan (Hamilton [seasonal] , Orlando-Sanford)
* (Barcelona [ends 26 October] , Blackpool, Chambéry [seasonal] , Dubrovnik [Begins 2 May] , Jersey [begins 18 May] , Ibiza [seasonal] , Las Palmas [seasonal] , Leeds/Bradford, Lourdes, Málaga, Menorca [begins 15 June] , Murcia, Newquay [Begins 24 May] , Palma de Mallorca, Pisa [seasonal] , Tenerife-South, Toulouse)
*Manx2 (Isle of Man)
*Wizz Air (Warsaw)

Charter Airlines & Destinations

*Aer Lingus (Graz)
*Air Europa (Ibiza, Palma de Mallorca)
*Air Malta (Malta)
*Air Transat
**operated by Skyservice Airlines (Toronto-Pearson)
*Arkia (Tel Aviv)
*Austrian Airlines (Innsbruck)
*bmi (Alicante, Arrecife, Corfu, Dalaman, Faro, Fuerteventura, Ibiza, Las Palmas, Paphos, Reus, Tenerife-South, Verona)
*Bulgaria Air (Hemus Air) (Bourgas, Sofia Ski, Varna)
*Croatia Airlines (Dubrovnik)
*Czech Airlines (Salzburg, Verona) [seasonal]
*Dubrovnik Airline (Dubrovnik, Pula, Split)
*Eurocypria Airlines (Larnaca)
*First Choice Airways (Alicante ,Arrecife, Bodrum, Bourgas, Dalaman, Faro, Ibiza, Las Palmas, Málaga, Naples, Palma de Mallorca, Reus, Tenerife-South, Verona)
*Flybe (Salzburg [seasonal charter] )
*Flightline (Lourdes)
* (Maribor)
*Monarch Airlines (Heraklion, Orlando-Sanford, Tenerife)
*Onur Air (Bodrum, Antayla, Dalaman, Izmir)
*Pegasus (Bodrum, Dalaman)
*Spanair (Alicante, Arrecife, Málaga, Reus, Tenerife-South)
*Thomas Cook Airlines (Alicante, Arrecife, Antalya, Bodrum, Cancun, Dalaman, Faro, Fuerteventura, Girona, Heraklion, Ibiza, Las Vegas, Larnaca, Las Palmas, Mahon, Monastir, Orlando-Sanford, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Puerto Plata, Reus, Rhodes, Sharm el Sheikh, Tenerife-South, Zakynthos)
*Titan Airways (Lourdes)
*VLM (Carrickfinn, Jersey, Rotterdam)

Cargo operators

Belfast International Airport is one of the most important regional airfreight centres in the UK, handling up to 50,000 tonnes (49,210 Long ton) of air cargo in 2004.fact|date=February 2008. BIA plays host to a long-established nightly Royal Mail operation. The major cargo operators are:
*DHL (East Midlands)
* (East Midlands)
*Maersk (London-Stansted)
*TNT Airways (East Midlands, Liège)

Transport links


Travellers by car from Belfast reach the airport by travelling north on the M2 motorway, turning off at junction 5 and then via A57 for 7 mi (11 km) to the airport. From the north and north west the route is easiest found by coming south on the M2 again to junction 5.


Translink operates a 24 hour bus service every 20 minutes (Airbus 300) to the airport from their Europa Buscentre, in the centre of Belfast.

The airport can be reached from Derry and the northwest by the Airporter. This coach service operates 7 days a week and an hourly service from Monday-Friday.


The nearest railway station is the Antrim railway station which is 10 km (6 mi) from the airport in Antrim, and is serviced by a bus link called the Antrim Airlink, which departs from in front of the terminal building, Monday-Friday only. There are connections to Belfast, Lisburn and Derry. Trains to and from Dublin are via Belfast Central railway station, which has its own Airbus stop. A new station serving the airport could one day be constructed on the mothballed Lisburn-Antrim railway line as set out in the airport master plan. This line remains in serviceable condition and passes close to the airport terminal.

Future plans

In September 2006, Belfast International Airport published their master plan [ [ Master Plan] ] for the next 25 years. The master plan predicts that passenger numbers will increase to between 6 million passengers per annum (mppa) and 7.5 mppa by 2015 and to 12 mppa by 2030. Cargo throughput at BIA could reach as high as 82,000 t (80,705 L/T) by 2015, and 148,000 t (145,663 L/T) by 2030. To accommodate this growth a number upgrades have been suggested, some of these are listed below.


* Extension of international check-in hall
* Extension and reconfiguration of domestic baggage hall
* Construction of a new South Pier including departure lounges
* Extension of West Pier (to accommodate more and larger aircraft)
* Passenger aircraft parking apron expanded into cargo apron
* Construction of multi-storey car park and high level link to terminal
* Expansion of cargo/freight handling facilities and apron to western extent of airport lands


* New three storey central core linking to existing and recently developed areas.
* A passenger rail connection to the airport
* Enhanced highway links between airport and M2 motorway and improved public transport direct to all parts of Northern Ireland.
* Demolition of the old terminal (replacement in operation)


External links

* [ Belfast International Airport] , official website

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