Category: Archive

Continental lauds Belfast route

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The overall picture, however, is of few passengers using Belfast International (Aldergrove) Belfast City and City of Derry airports, this according to figures released by the Civil Aviation Authority.
According to the CAS, the number of people using the North’s three airports in May was down 13 percent compared to the same month in ’08.
652,000 passengers used the airports in May but this amounted 96,000 fewer inbound and outbound journeys compared to than the previous May.
Traffic on scheduled international services was down 20 percent but the Belfast to Newark/New York service was one of the standouts.
That service is operated by Continental Airlines and the airline reported last week that half the passengers it carried on the route last month were inbound. This was the highest number of arriving passengers in the four year history of the airline’s transatlantic service to Belfast..
The Irish News reported Continental’s director for the service, Bob Schumacher, as stating that the fact the service was attracting as many inbound as outbound passengers was a sign that Belfast had become an established destination on the airline’s international network.
“We are very pleased with our performance in Belfast relative to an aviation market generally under stress,” Schumacher said.
“We are actually up in passengers year-on-year on this route, which is extraordinary. There are not many routes in Europe that can boast that. We are also up on American passengers coming to Belfast. That tells us that the route is maturing,” he said.
“So from a Belfast perspective, all things considered, we are pretty happy with how things are. To be in a market in a recession where the number of passengers on the aeroplane is up is a great sign.
“We are carrying around 100,000 a year and have carried 400,000 since the service started. When we originally did the numbers on this route, we thought we would carry around 80,000 a year, so we are well ahead of that,” he added.
Nevertheless, the Irish News report indicated, while Continental was pleased with the Belfast route, it was making its money on it during the summer months.
In that context, Schumacher indicated that the number of flights per week on the transatlantic route would be reduced during the peak winter months
“We want to make sure that in the times when we traditionally don’t make money, we don’t lose a lot of money,” he said
In reducing flights to five a week during the deep winter period from November to February, Continental is mirroring decision by Aer Lingus and Delta to reduce winter services to the U.S. out of Dublin Airport, a little over a hundred miles to the south of Belfast City.

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