Belfast City Airport welcomes removal of cap on seat sales

George Best Belfast City Airport will lose a number of routes.
George Best Belfast City Airport will lose a number of routes.
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A planning restriction limiting the number of departure seats sold by George Best Belfast City Airport has been lifted.

The decision was taken by former infrastructure minister Chris Hazzard in 2017 following a public inquiry into the issue in 2015.

But in the absence of local ministers and devolved government, the decision was only enacted on Wednesday by the Department for Infrastructure.

The department has signed a new Modified Planning Agreement with the airport which will control operations with immediate effect.

This agreement endorses the recommendations of the Planning Appeals Commission independent report of the public inquiry.

It removes the two million cap on the number of seats for sale on departing flights and also establishes a new noise management system at the airport.

While the passenger number cap has been removed, the airport retains an annual limit of 48,000 on air traffic movements.

Last year the airport saw just over 36,000 air traffic movements.

The new noise control measures include a departure noise limit on all flights with levies payable to the Community Fund when this is exceeded.

Additionally, a penalty system for late flights has been introduced into the agreement with fines increased compared with the previous voluntary Flybe disruption scheme operated by the airport.

It also includes the establishment of a Noise Insulation Scheme offering funding for sound insulation to residential and noise sensitive properties experiencing an average equivalent daily daytime noise level of 63dB.

A spokesman for Belfast City Airport welcomed the removal of the cap.

“The airport is acutely aware of the environment in which it works and will continue to be transparent with regard to all its operations with all its stakeholders,” he said.