Sammy Wilson hits out as ‘scandalous’ Belfast-Heathrow flight prices top £500

The cost of flights between Northern Ireland and London is “scandalous” amid continued airport woes and limits on passenger numbers at Heathrow, a DUP MP has said.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 3rd August 2022, 7:24 pm
PACEMAKER BELFAST  05/03/2020 Belfast City Airport
PACEMAKER BELFAST 05/03/2020 Belfast City Airport

East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson suggested the high cost of air travel between Belfast and London could pose difficulties for the local economy.

“People are regularly paying over £500,” he said.

The News Letter conducted a small survey of prices on Wednesday afternoon for the cost of flights between Heathrow and Belfast City.

Some flights were listed at over £500 for a single journey between the two airports.

Return trips, in some cases, were between £700 and £800.

“The airlines will tell you that you can get tickets for between £100 and £200 and that’s true, but there are a limited number of tickets and they are only available at limited times,” Mr Wilson said.

The prices appear to have risen this summer amid widespread problems being faced by airports around Europe.

Heathrow, in particular, has been plagued by problems related to staffing and other issues having reduced its workforce during the pandemic and encountered frosty industrial relations in recent months.

On Tuesday, British Airways suspended selling short-haul flights from Heathrow Airport for several days.

Customers are unable to book onto domestic or European services flying from the west London airport until Monday.

The airline said the move came in response to Heathrow’s request to limit new bookings after last month introducing a passenger cap of 100,000 people on departing flights until September 11.

To meet the cap, BA announced it would cancel 10,300 flights until October, with one million passengers affected.

Mr Wilson, meanwhile, said: “You are now seeing people asked to pay huge amounts of money, and in my opinion they are getting a curtailed service.

“Now, the airlines may argue that’s not their fault, that it’s due to the restrictions on the number of passengers who can go through, but it’s high prices and a reduced service.”

On the importance of air connectivity between Northern Ireland and London, he said: “It’s been proven that air connectivity helps businesses expand, to reach new markets.

“For many people who are travelling back-and-forward to work in London every week, their businesses have actually won contracts in London which helps to sustain the business back home in Northern Ireland. A lot of the construction industry, for example, help to keep their businesses afloat with work in the mainland. A lot of businessmen also have to have those face-to-face contacts.

“It’s important to our economy because we have such a small local market.”

He added: “When you add to the cost of that connectivity, people will be less able to take up those opportunities.”