Friday, November 14, 2008

Belfast City Airport runway may get loooonger

Belfast City Airport

The long-awaited application to extend the runway at George Best Belfast City Airport has been submitted. This news follows on from last month’s capacity increases in the number of annual flights (48,000) and “seats for sale” (2 million in and out) at the harbour airport.

An extra 590m in front of Ikea and Holy Wood Exchange would allow existing aircraft to take off with a full load of fuel and passengers, allowing them to reach further away European and Mediterranean destinations direct from Belfast.

The airport chief executive Brian Ambrose explained:

“We also want to publicly reassure people living in Belfast or close to the flight-path that the runway extension will not involve an increase in flights or a change in the opening hours of the airport. The current planning agreement restricts operating hours from 6:30am to 9:30pm daily and caps air traffic movements at 48,000 per annum.

Furthermore, we would like to make it clear that we have no intention of introducing ‘wide-bodied’ aircraft to our airport. Thus the size of the aircraft currently using the airport will not increase. This is due to the physical limitations of the runway and the airport itself.”

However, Fiona McKinlay from the local resident’s group Belfast City Airport Watch described the move as an “irreversible nightmare” to the BBC:

“The runway extension will enable airlines to fly aircraft with heavier fuel loads - that means jets will be noisier and will fly lower ... Whatever assurances the airport may provide, the fact remains that there's nothing to stop airlines using big jets on all 48,000 of its permitted annual flights.”


Timothy Belmont said...

I must confess that I don't reside close enough to the airport to be affected, in terms of noise; notwithstanding that, I remain in favour of the airport's development. This is controversial, I am well aware. I may live to regret my utterances; however, it would be most convenient to fly from the city airport to mainland Europe!


Anonymous said...

I am not sure what the gripe is among residents, thev live beside a bloody airport - what did they expect? I grew up between Heathrow and Gatwick airports which meant that 24 hours a day 365 days of the year we had aircraft taking off and landing over our heads. In those days we had no double glazing either. When I moved away it took me years to learn how to get to sleep WITHOUT aircraft noise!

Alan in Belfast said...

I imagine, the nearby residents grew up living in an area that had a short airstrip that only services small propeller planes - like the Shorts 360 manufactured nearby.

But over the last twenty years, it grew from an airstrip into a commercial airport, with massive increases in the number and size of flights.

Anonymous said...

I understand that, still it wouldn't have taken an Einstein to work it out would it??????

Alan in Belfast said...

Given that most people didn't fly more than once every few years (if at all), it would have taken quite a step of imagination to imagine that the airstrip associated with a plane factory would ever become a public airport.

Going from a few hundred (maybe a thousand) flight movements back then to 48,000 now? That's a massive increase.

Do you think the people living in Newtownards are sitting expecting the Ards airfield to build a passenger terminal and for Flybe to start operating any day now?

Timothy Belmont said...

Ards International Airport... Now that's food for thought! Having said that, it could conceivably become like St Angelo Airport a decade or two down the road. :-)


John Self said...

Time to remove the ability to post anonymous comments, perhaps, Alan? It only ever seems to be used by idiots.