George Best Belfast City Airport

George Best Belfast City Airport

Infobox Airport
name = George Best Belfast City Airport
nativename = Belfast City Airport

image-width = 160
caption =
type = Public
owner = Ferrovial
operator = Belfast City Airport Ltd.
city-served = Belfast
location = Port of Belfast
elevation-f = 15
elevation-m = 5
website =
metric-rwy = Yes
r1-number = 04/22
r1-length-f = 6,001
r1-length-m = 1,829
r1-surface = Asphalt
stat-year = 2007
stat1-header = Aircraft Movements
stat1-data = 43,022
stat2-header = Passengers
stat2-data = 2,186,993
footnotes = Statistics from the UK CAA [ Aircraft Movements 2007] , [ Terminal and Transit Passengers 2007] ]
Source: AIPAeronautical Information Publication available from National Air Traffic Services.]

George Best Belfast City Airport Airport codes|BHD|EGAC is an airport in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The airport has a single runway operation. Situated adjacent to the Port of Belfast it is 3.2 kilometres (2 miles) from Belfast City Centre. It shares the site with the Short Brothers/Bombardier aircraft manufacturing facility. The airport began commercial operations in 1983.

The airport was formerly known as Belfast City Airport until it was renamed in 2006 in memory of George Best, the famous footballer associated with east Belfast.

The airport handled nearly 2.2 million passengers in 2007, a 3.9% increase since 2006 and a 15.1% increase over the five years since 2002. [cite web |url= | title=CAA Airport Statistics 2007 | work=UK CAA | accessdate= 2008-04-07 ]

The airport is a major base for Flybe, which began operations at the airport in 1993 and is now the largest operator at Belfast City.

Belfast City has a CAA Public Use Aerodrome Licence (Number P862) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction.


An airfield was established by Shorts beside their Belfast factory in 1937 as Sydenham Airport (Sydenham, Belfast). This was Belfast's main civilian airport from 1938 to 1939. The airfield was requisitioned by the Royal Navy during the Second World War. Nutts Corner, a former Royal Air Force (RAF) base, then became Belfast's main airport (while Aldergrove would later become the primary airport in Northern Ireland). The Sydenham airfield continued to be used for military purposes until the 1970s, after which it was used by Shorts. In 1983, following interest from airlines and customers, the airfield was opened for commercial flights as Belfast Harbour Airport (subsequently Belfast City Airport and now in its current guise).

Present day

Following major capital investment Bombardier sold the airport for £35 million to the Spanish company Ferrovial, [ [ Spanish firm secures Northern Ireland Airport] ] the owner of British Airports Authority, however on 27th May 2008, they announced their intention to resell the airport by placing it on the open market, as reported by the BBC.

Ferrovial is one of Europe's leading construction groups and a growing airport management group. It also manages several other airports worldwide.

On 30 October 2007, Ryanair established its 23rd base at the airport. The newest route was between Belfast and London Stansted, following Air Berlin's announcement that it would discontinue the route on 31 October 2007.

The main, and only, handling agent at the airport is Aviance UK Ltd which operates at several other airports around the UK.


*Car: The airport is located on the A2, Sydenham By Pass road between Belfast and Holywood
*Bus: Flexibus route No. 600 is the Airlink service, from the terminal to the Belfast Europa Bus Centre adjacent to the Europa Hotel. The Metrobus No. 3a operates every 20 minutes from Sydenham to Belfast City Hall. The "Airporter" service operates 9 coaches daily to Derry
*Rail: The airport is served by Northern Ireland Railways Translink service. A bus runs from the terminal to Sydenham railway station

Expansion plans and objections

As the airport is adjacent to residential areas, the issue of noise pollution is a major one and a source of public debate. The airport has developed a noise management strategy following a planning agreement, under which the airport operates, and has established operational noise abatement procedures.

The airport has recently applied for a complete removal of the limit on the seats it can sell [ Examination in Public - Belfast City Airport Planning Agreement] ] - a key element of the 1997 planning agreement, which guards against over-expansion of an airport which is sited in a densely populated location. As a result, numerous residents' groups have formed a coalition - The Coalition Against Belfast City Airport Expansion [ [ Belfast City Airport Watch] ] - to protest against the airport's proposed expansion plans, and to represent the views of residents at the Examination in Public held during 2006.

The airport is now preparing to make a proposal for a hotel to be sited either on the land currently occupied by the cargo facilities or the short stay car park fact|date=January 2008. If sited on the car park it would have a covered walkway into the terminalfact|date=January 2008. The nearest hotels to the airport are in the city centre, around 10 to 15 minutes drive from the terminal during peak times.

The number of residential areas of Belfast affected by large low flying aircraft has increased substantially, particularly with the introduction of larger aircraft, for example BMI Airbus and Ryanair Boeing aircraft. Fact|date=December 2007

Restrictions applied to the airport include:
*The requirement for flights to operate between 6:30 am and 9:30 pm (with extensions granted in exceptional circumstances to operate delayed flights up to midnight).
*That there can only be 45,000 commercial aircraft movements in any year.
*That airlines must not offer more than 1.5 million seats for sale on flights from the airport per year.
*The majority of flights must approach and depart the airport over Belfast Lough (currently only 54.8% in practice), rather than over the city of Belfast. Fact|date=December 2007

The airport owners are studying providing access to the airport through the adjacent Holywood Exchange retail development. This would take advantage of the high capacity flyover serving that site and reduce congestion at the existing entrances. Fact|date=December 2007

Renamed in memory of George Best

In March 2006, it announced that the airport would be renamed in memory of the late Northern Irish footballer George Best. The new name, George Best Belfast City Airport [ [ Best family proud of airport name] ] , and signage were revealed at the renaming ceremony attended by Best's family and friends on May 22 2006, which would have been Best's 60th birthday.

The renaming of the airport caused considerable controversy, with many articles in local and national print media highlighting the mixed feeling of Belfast residents. While many residents supported the move, an equal number of citizens felt that a more appropriate Belfast figure could have been chosen for the honour. [ [ 'George Best Airport' splits city] ]

In March 2006 Flybe announced that it would be naming its Belfast City - Manchester service after the late footballer, dedicating a plane to him. However the aircraft, a Bombardier Dash 8 Q400, G-JECL, does not serve this route on a regular basis and rarely makes an appearance at the airport. Fact|date=December 2007

Airlines and destinations

*Aer Arann (Cork)
*bmi (London-Heathrow, Rotterdam)
*Flybe (Aberdeen, Birmingham, Cardiff, Doncaster/Sheffield, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow-International, Inverness, Jersey, Leeds/Bradford, London-Gatwick, Manchester, Newcastle, Newquay, Rennes, Southampton)
**operated by Loganair (Dundee)
*Manx2 (Blackpool, Isle of Man)
*Ryanair (East Midlands, Glasgow-Prestwick, Liverpool, London-Stansted)

External links

* [ George Best Belfast City Airport - Official website]


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