Please Ryanair - Come Back to Belfast
My problem is that from October 30th Ryanair have pulled out of Belfast City Airport after falling out over airport extension permissions with Belfast City Council. This is a major blow to me. I'm a director for a company which manufactures back pain therapy devices near Manchester so my girlfriend and I commute several times a month between Liverpool and Belfast to see each other! As a result I have made my first two flights with Flybe who have taken over the Liverpool - Belfast City route from Ryanair, and what a joke! 3 times the price (because they believe they have a captive audience?) and after only 2 flights, a total of nearly 3 hours of delay!
When I flew from Liverpool on Thursday 24 Nov there were less than 20 hardy souls at the departure gates waiting forlornly for the Bombardier Q400 propeller driven aircraft of which there was no sign. I inquire why, and am sagely informed by the Flybe lady that the reason the plane is late into Liverpool, is that it was late leaving Belfast! Oh thats ok then, for a minute there I thought there was a 'technical' reason? Meanwhile we gaze enviously at nearly two hundred happy passengers at the next gate eagerly making their way through to the gleaming Ryanair Boeing 737-800 Jet already waiting to whisk them to Dublin on time. I must be honest though, and say that there were times when I wished Ryanair could be just a tiny bit late so they wouldn't play that corny trumpeting of yet another on time flight over the aircraft tannoy everytime they landed! That really is a case of blowing your own trumpet I suppose!
Alas my return journey on the Sunday was even worse. Again with only enough passengers to quarter fill the plane. (Flybe prices?) Once it did turn up we were forced to sit in an ice cold cabin with the doors open at both ends for another 40 minutes. The stewardess then proudly informed us that "We are just waiting a couple of minutes for the hot water to be delivered - because we sure everyone will want a hot drink?" It might be my twisted principles but I would have rather frozen to death than have Flybe extort more money out of me for a hot drink after that"
Please don't knock Ryanair, you get a brilliant service at a ridiculously reasonable cost. I just wish that Belfast City Airport, Belfast City Council, and Michael O'Leary, Chief executive of Ryanair could sit down and resolve the issues of the extensions and permissions at the City Airport. It's not just the 50 Ryanair staff who lost their jobs who are the losers in this. Belfast City airport seems like a ghost town after losing Ryanair.
The loss of revenues, not just at Liverpool and Belfast City airports, but also to local business, attractions, taxis and other transport, and indeed Ryanair itself (which unlike many airlines turned in a profit last year despite the economic situation in Europe) will be quite catastrophic, and in my eyes so unnecessary.
Having experienced the horrors of Flybe and its far higher charges and much lower service levels, I cannot see it making a success of the route like Ryanair and it's a crying shame for all concerned.
Please Mr O'Leary, have a rethink on Belfast City, but not just for the sake of me and my girlfriend, I do think that Ryanair and Belfast are good for each other
David Pegg, from Manchester UK, is a director with Lumbacurve International Back Pain Therapy.
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