Residents’ fury at removal of airport passenger limit

Campaigners accuse Poots of disregard for public

Local residents say they’re furious that the Environment Minister, Edwin Poots, has decided to do away with the passenger – or seats for sale limit – at George Best Belfast City Airport.

The umbrella residents’ group, Belfast City Airport Watch, says the limit was a crucial aspect of the airport’s planning agreement, which is designed to protect local communities against undue levels of aircraft noise.

“The Minister is flying in the face of a recommendation by the Assembly’s Environment Committee which said, just weeks ago, that the airport’s stipulated passenger limit should remain in place for now,” said BCAW’s spokesperson, Dr Liz Fawcett.

Belfast City Council has also voiced concerns.

“There will now be nothing to stop all 48,000 of the permitted annual flights in and out of the airport from using the larger, noisier type of planes which have been operating there – and that will greatly increase the misery of people living under the flight path.

“If further airport expansion is felt desirable in Northern Ireland, there’s a perfectly good international airport just 20 miles from Belfast.

“In these circumstances, we can’t understand why the Minister is ignoring the needs of the tens of thousands of ordinary people affected by aircraft noise, and placing the commercial interests of one airport above their health and quality of life.”

Last year, BCAW carried out a survey of more than 400 individuals in areas in east and south Belfast, and in north Down, affected by aircraft noise from the City Airport.

The shock findings from this survey demonstrated the extent to which aircraft noise is already a very real problem for many residents:

  • More than three-quarters (78%) of the 412 individuals surveyed said that aircraft noise affected their sleep
  • Three-quarters (75%) of respondents said they often had to stop talking when a plane flew over because they couldn’t be heard
  • Of the 157 respondents with children, nearly half (46%) said their children weren’t getting enough sleep because of aircraft noise.
  • More than a third (34%) of those with children said their children found aircraft noise frightening.


  1. Raymond Bell says:

    Excellent News !!! and that BMIbaby are moving to the city Airport. Hopefully Ryanair will reconsider its silly decision to pull out.

  2. Stewart says:

    It isn’t Belfast International, it’s Middle Of Nowhere International and only the taxi drivers and car parks who rip off the passengers like it. Don’t even mention the place until a light rail link to Belfast has been installed.

  3. Badams says:

    I agree that there needs to be a better connection between the Intl airport and the city centre. But the growth of the City airport is causing significant harm and distress to tens of thousands of residents. Is this the price we should pay for economic progress? Progress that can easily be gained from the intl airport without a negative effect on tens of thousands of residents? At what point to we say that the price is too high? Ten thousand people affected? A hundred thousand? Or is it, as I suspect, just a case of “well it’s not me that’s affected so I don’t give a damn.”?

  4. 737driver says:

    I agree with Raymond, hopefully with this lifted it will encourage the expansion back into Belfast. Also hoping Ryanair will return and bring the low fares to so many in NI that are now sorely missed. Myself and many others were employed by them there and have had to find work elsewhere.
    However, I agree on a compromise – the 9.30pm limit should be absolute, we fly into other airports in Europe where its a mandatory diversion after the airport closure time and the fines are passed directly to the airlines – no problem. In all the time I flew there with Ryanair I think I landed after 9.30 twice, generally it was always about 45 minutes early at 8.30pm. So now the residents are feeling the effects of the unpuntual airlines like easyjet and flybe who consistently had a few flights in late each week. Also maybe a 7.00AM opening time at the weekends, but you have to remember that an early departure is essential to do business in London.
    Also, what many fail to remember is that a longer runway means MORE departures and arrivals over the lough and not over the city. There are many airports elsewhere with a preferential departure and arrival runways that are opposite, if the runway is longer, a tailwind is not anywhere near so restrictive can can allow much more flexibility.

    The runway extension is needed to benefit the economy of Northern Ireland. We can debate all day about which airport should be used but like it or not, some airlines/people want to use Belfast City. With the extension and the right planning and rules in place, there is no reason why we cant have the same aircraft, same operating times, just longer destinations.

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