Manx2, an airline that hails from Ballasalla on the Isle of Man, is to abandon its base at Belfast International Airport and move immediately next door, to Belfast City, otherwise known as George Best Airport.
Whilst such a minor change of scenery might seem like an enormous waste of time and money, the Manx2 airline claims that the move could “more than double” its business in Northern Ireland, despite City being almost half the size of Belfast International.
Belfast International will lose a flight to Galway and another to the Isle of Man when Manx2 jumps ship at the end of October 2010. Belfast City, on the other hand, will gain those routes lost by its neighbour, as well as a brand new route to Cork.
English airline, Flybe, will also add new routes at Belfast City Airport, to three exotic locations in Europe: Bristol, East Midlands Airport, and Liverpool.
Manx2’s transfer will no doubt come as a relief to City, which was left facing an uncertain future at the end of August, after budget airline, Ryanair, announced plans to withdraw all services from the Irish hub at the end of October.
Ryanair had taken umbrage with plans to delay the expansion of a runway at Belfast City, potentially stifling the development of its business in Ireland. Michael O’Leary, the airline’s owner, said, “We’re going to go, we’re taking the plane, you’ll lose the passengers, you’ll lose the jobs.”
Noel Hayes, chief of Manx2, believes that Belfast City will be more popular with domestic customers. The Irish hub, Noel explains, has faster check-in facilities, and better access to the city centre.
However, Belfast International is still well positioned to compete with its local rival, with more than 20 airlines providing flights to Europe and beyond, including the Irish flag-carrier, Aer Lingus.