24 December 2005

Festive rush home well under way


Extra flights have been put on to cope with the holiday rush

More than 20,000 people are expected to pass through Belfast City Airport in the three days leading up to Christmas Day.

The figure represents an increase of 10% on normal traffic at the airport on the outskirts of east Belfast.

On Friday, four additional flights from London were put on to cope with the festive rush home.

Andrea Hayes, general manager of Flybe, the airport's biggest airline, said all flights were "filled to capacity".

However, traffic at the airport was not all one-way, with about one-third of passengers flying out of Belfast.

One man said he no longer lived in Northern Ireland and was on his way back to the Isle of Man.

"I'm going home... as you can see from the presents. It's a bit strange because most of my pals are now arriving back from Germany, from Dubai and places like that, and I'm heading off," he said.

"I have been here all week, seeing people, doing business and I've had a really good time and now I've got to try to get home tonight."

A woman passenger, waiting for the same flight said: "We arrived last Saturday. We have had an early Christmas here in Belfast, just with family at home, and yesterday we celebrated my grandmother's 90th birthday.

"We had a surprise party for her last night. Everything was wonderful. We are laden down with presents now and we are going back to the Isle of Man where we have lived for the past 16 years."

Andrea Hayes said her company would put on extra flights "as and when they are required".

"Because of the way Christmas is falling this year, with it being over the weekend period, rather than getting everybody travelling at the weekend, the traffic has been steady throughout the week, which of course, all helps."

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