Thursday, April 03, 2008

Ryanair’s claim of 80% flightpaths over Belfast Lough vs Belfast City Airport’s public statistics

An anonymous commenter has made a very good point about a quote in a recent post that mentioned Belfast City Airport’s runway expansion plans.

“Ryanair's statement that 80% of their flights over Befast Lough is a laugh - only just over 50% of flights now go over the Lough (see [url]) and nearly every Ryanair take-off is over my house and I live in the city - 3 miles from the airport! Ryanair and statistics - they never seem to get them right!”

As part of various statements and articles about the soon-to-be submitted runway extension planning application from Belfast City Airport, Ryanair is quoted making claims about the direction of their takeoffs and landings. For example, from the Belfast Telegraph’s article on 3 March 2008:

David O’Brien, ground and flight operations director with Ryanair, said local residents should have no fears about the runway extension.

The airport tells us that 80% of our flights use flightpaths over Belfast Lough, which minimises noise in residential areas,” he said.

“Far from being alarmed, residents should be delighted that the airline with the most modern and environmentally efficient fleet is coming to Belfast City.”

This begs the question, 80% of what? And when?

The airport’s own Master Plan published in 2006 refers back to the January 1997 Planning Agreement under which the airport operates. This includes the stipulation:

“A bias shall be maintained of approaches and climb outs over Belfast Lough.”

This was also reinforced by the report of the 2004/5/6 public examination of the Planning Agreement which noted that the

“bias figure achieved has reduced from over 68% in 2001 to around 57% in 2005”.

The airport themselves publish statistics on their website about the direction of takeoffs and landings. As I write, the figures cover the period Nov 2007–Jan 2008, and they’re not supportive of the 80% claim.

Table showing direction of arrivals and departures of aircraft at Belfast City Airport - Nov 2007 to Jan 2008

The trend over the published three month period has been for 53.4% of flights to arrive or depart over Belfast Lough. That’s a long way from the 80% quoted by Ryanair.

Perhaps Ryanair has access to more up-to-date information? It seems highly unlikely that Ryanair are more Lough-facing than the other airlines at the harbour airport. And unless the period covering 80% was a single afternoon when the wind changed between landings and takeoffs, I find it hard to believe the 80% figure.

Either way, I’ve emailed David O’Brien at Ryanair and the airport to ask! In the event of hearing back from the former (unlikely) or the latter (a lot more likely), I’ll keep you posted.

Update - 17 April - Still no reply from either Ryanair or Belfast City Airport, though I've resent to the airport which has been in the news again.

1 comment:

ajdunlop said...

I am more worried by the fact Ryanair claim their planes are the most environmentally friendly fleet. How is this possible when easyJet make the same claim and flybe use smaller prop plains which are the most effiecent.
Airlines need to stop lying to us by saying shiny plains are going to solve the problem when they encourage ridiculously short flights (i.e. Southampton to Manchester). That is rubbish.
I really can't stand Ryanair and their made up statistics and money grabbing every chance they get.
[Rant over]