It is now 15 years since easyJet started operating flights out of Belfast International Airport and, to celebrate, the budget airline has announced two new routes to the Channel Islands and south-west France.
easyJet’s first route from Belfast was to Luton and it changed the face of air travel for many living in Northern Ireland. Prior to the arrival of easyJet in Belfast, people had to pay fares of around £300 to fly to mainland Britain. Since then the carrier has flown over 32 million people to and from Belfast, making it the most popular airline for travellers to and from the area. easyJet currently employs more than 200 people at Belfast International to crew and fly the 6 aircraft that operate out of the airport.
Indicative prices are currently unavailable for either of the new routes as tickets do not go on sale until next month and the routes themselves do not operate until the spring of 2014. However, residents of Northern Ireland looking for a holiday in Jersey, the British island which can often feel more like France than Britain, or in the interesting wine-growing area around Bordeaux have much to celebrate.
A survey carried out by Which? Travel magazine recently revealed that passengers prefer small regional airports so Jersey in particular should prove user-friendly, with only 1.5 million passengers using it in 2012. To put this into context, London Gatwick handled 34.2 million passengers in the same period. Bordeaux, despite being France’s sixth busiest airport, saw only 4.3 million passengers in 2012.