SDLP Economy Spokesperson Sinéad McLaughlin has described Ryanair’s withdrawal from Northern Ireland as a huge blow to both passengers and local airports.
It was announced on Tuesday that the airline was ending all flights from Belfast City Airport in September and from Belfast International Airport at the end of October.
Ms McLaughlin said she was particularly concerned about Belfast City Airport, with the airport losing a large number of routes.
She said she hoped new airlines would come forward to fill the gap in the market left by Ryanair’s withdrawal.
The Foyle MLA said:
“Today’s news will be extremely disappointing to passengers, from commuters to holidaymakers, a lot of people will miss out as a result of these routes no longer being available to people in the North. It will also be a blow to both Belfast airports, with Ryanair already pulling out of City of Derry earlier this year. My thoughts are also with staff who may be affected by these developments.
“We are in the midst of an extremely difficult period for both the aviation and travel industries which have been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic. As we emerge from the pandemic I hope to see both sectors rebound, people have been clear, the demand for foreign holidays and travel is there and will need to be met as things return to normal.
“I have regularly pleaded with the Executive to provide adequate support to the aviation and travel industries and their staff, but this has fallen on deaf ears. Our airports were struggling before the onset of the pandemic and we need to see a proper long-term Executive plan to address these issues to ensure our airports remain viable and offer people the best possible choice and experience. The first item on their agenda should be finding a new airline or multiple airlines to fill the gap in the market left by Ryanair’s withdrawal.”