British Airways adds more flights between Dublin and London City

British Airways is planning to add a sixth daily service between London City and Dublin to benefit both business and leisure customers.

Just six months ago British Airways launched the new route direct from the Docklands to the heart of Ireland. The new flights between the major capital cities – London and Dublin – are aimed at increasing choice for customers, who presently fly from Heathrow to the Irish capital with British Airways up to eight times a day.

Presently British Airways has an aircraft based in Dublin overnight for an early morning departure, allowing customers to do a full day’s business in London or to connect onward to British Airways’ 29 domestic, European and international destinations from the Docklands airport. The schedule also allows passengers to do a full day’s business in Dublin.

Starting June 1, an extra weekday service will be added for a month, which will resume permanently from September 1. It will depart from London City at 2.40 pm with the return flight from Dublin at 5.15 pm. The single hand-baggage only fares start from £45 and are available to book on

Luke Hayhoe, British Airways’ commercial general manager at London City, said: ‘We are very pleased with our customers’ response to this important new route and delighted to have the opportunity to add an extra frequency so soon giving customers more choice and flexibility. Our current schedule allows us to operate the extra flight in June, which is a particularly busy month, then we will add the additional frequency permanently from September.’

The extra new flight will operate on a 98-seat Embraer 190 jet. All British Airways fares include free seat allocation and on line check-in 24 hours before departure, complimentary refreshments and drinks and no debit card charges.

Separately, British Airways has said recently that customers flying between London City Airport and Edinburgh, Dublin and the Isle of Man could collect double Avios points during the months of April and May.

easyJet announces first direct flight between Ireland and Iceland

easyJet, the Ireland-based low-fare airline, has announced the launch of its first direct service between Belfast and Reykjavik.

Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital city, is surrounded by waterfalls, glaciers and volcanoes, making it an interesting destination for holiday makers and adventurers looking for a city break. The flight – the only direct service between the two destinations – operates twice per week on Mondays and Fridays on a 156 seater Airbus A319. Over 30,000 passengers are expected to use the new service during the first 12 months. Fares start from £31.99 one way per person.

Ali Gayward, easyJet’s Head of Ireland, said: ‘We are really excited to have launched Ireland’s first direct connection from Belfast International Airport to Reykjavik today. This new year round service will bring the number of easyJet flights to Iceland up to 26 a week and we will carry in excess of 200,000 passengers per year to and from Reykjavik across all of these flights. Over 30,000 of these are expected to originate from Belfast.

‘It is a particularly exciting addition to our base at Belfast International due to the eclectic mix of activities and scenery on offer and we are confident that it will provide a popular addition to easyJet’s network.

‘We remain committed to expanding our network from Belfast and last month announced that we would be adding services to Split commencing from June 2015.’

Graham Keddie Managing Director, Belfast International Airport, said: ‘The new easyJet service from Belfast International to Reykjavik is another exciting addition to our routes. It opens up direct channels for Icelandic tourists to visit the island of Ireland via Belfast and, with the expectation of 30,000 passengers, will add welcome revenue to the local economy.’

easyJet presently serves 27 destinations from Belfast International Airport. The new direct service comes as Iceland’s tourism increased by 40% over the last two years. This new service is easyJet’s seventh direct flight to Reykjavik, providing access to Iceland’s dazzling scenery, and other attractions such as views of the northern lights, volcanos and whale watching tours.

From February 2015 easyJet’s Belfast operation will increase further with the addition of 34 extra flights between Liverpool and Belfast – increasing the service between the two cities to 78 flights per week.


VisitBritain prepares for ExploreGB – the world’s largest B2B tourism event

VisitBritain is preparing for its new annual flagship international event, ExploreGB, which will debut at Ascot Racecourse from February 25-26, 2015.

ExploreGB aims to present and promote Britain and the island of Ireland to the largest possible audience of international buyers. British and Irish tourism suppliers and destinations attending the event will have the opportunity to meet and do business with up to 250 select international travel buyers from over 37 countries, including Germany, Brazil, China and the US.

VisitBritain’s acting CEO, Keith Beecham, said: ‘Our goal is to make ExploreGB the world’s largest and most influential B2B tourism event promoting Britain and the island of Ireland. Tourism Ireland will be an important strategic partner for this task, adding value in multiple ways.

Working together will allow us to maximise opportunities and having Irish suppliers in attendance further strengthens the quality of our international buyers, providing a wider offering.’

Niall Gibbons, CEO for Tourism Ireland, a partner for ExploreGB, added: ‘We are delighted to be part of the inaugural ExploreGB in 2015, which will provide another important platform for Tourism Ireland and our Irish industry partners to showcase and sell Ireland to key international travel buyers. We already work closely with VisitBritain, particularly in long-haul markets like China and India, to target people travelling to Britain and encourage them to visit the island of Ireland as part of their trip, and vice versa.’

In its first year, ExploreGB will be held in London – and subsequently will alternate annually between London and other regions within Britain. The event will be followed by extensive familiarisation trips around Britain for international delegates.

More than 150 British tourism suppliers have already registered for ExploreGB 2015, including hotel groups, transport companies, visitor attractions and retail outlets. Prices start from £795 for the two-day workshop.

VisitBritain is UK’s national tourism agency, responsible for marketing Britain worldwide and developing Britain’s visitor economy. VisitBritain’s ExploreGB partners include the tourism trade association UKinbound, as well as regional tourist boards VisitEngland, VisitWales, VisitScotland, London & Partners as well as Tourism Ireland.


Flybe plans to add new routes from London

The UK’s regional carrier Flybe is planning a major return to London market, with plans to offer flights from London City Airport to Edinburgh, Belfast, Dublin, Inverness and Exeter.

Under a five-year agreement between London City Airport and Flybe, the new routes will start from October 27. The regional airline is targeting business travellers with fares starting from GBP34.99 one-way to the five destinations, and expects to carry an additional 500,000 passengers a year.

The airline will offer four daily flights to and from Edinburgh and Dublin, three to and from Belfast and Exeter and two to and from Inverness. The new routes will improve connectivity between the UK regions and Ireland to and from London’s financial district, the airline said.

It also plans to add off-peak leisure flights to ‘selected ski, regional French and northern Spanish’ destinations.

‘Today’s announcement is a significant landmark in the re-birth of Flybe,’ said Saad Hammad, the airline’s chief executive officer. ‘We are delighted to re-enter the London market at London’s most convenient airport and look forward to building a successful and growing presence there over the coming years.’

‘Flybe is today already connecting over 7 million passengers a year across the UK and Europe. With a major London connection, we reaffirm our place as the UK’s regional airline,’ he added.

Declan Collier, London City Airport’s chief executive officer, said: ‘London City Airport is poised for significant growth in the next ten years – growth that will see it achieve 120,000 flight movements per annum, with an associated 6 million passengers by 2023.’

Exeter-based Flybe downsized its operations last year, cutting hundreds of jobs and selling 25 pairs of arrival and departure slots at Gatwick.

The agreement with London City follows on from Flybe’s successful launch of eight new routes from Birmingham and a further four new routes launched from London Southend with franchise partner, Stobart Air.


Northern Ireland woos Game of Thrones fans

The official visitor website for Northern Ireland tourism,, is promoting the province’s involvement in the hit TV series, Game of Thrones.

In addition to filming at Belfast’s Titanic studios, several of the US medieval fantasy drama’s striking locations are in Northern Ireland, and the tourism authorities are keen to use them to attract the army of fans that the saga has recruited over its first three seasons, with a fourth premiering today.

Here are some of the locations recommended for inclusion on the must see itinerary of all Game of Thrones aficionados.

Cushenden Caves, Co. Antrim., which featured as The Stormlands in series 2, episode 4. The Caves were formed over a period of 400 million years of extreme weather conditions in Ireland. They can be found just beyond the beautiful coastal village and can be accessed by foot next to Cave House.

Castle Ward, Co. Down, which featured as Winterfell in episodes 1 and 2 of the first season, is situated in a stunning location overlooking Strangford Lough. The website says, ‘this house has both Gothic and Classical styles of architectural treatment, internally and externally. Inside the beautiful 820 acre walled demesne you will find an exotic sunken garden and paths that wind their way through woodland and suddenly open onto the quiet shores of the Lough.’

Larrybane, Carrick-a-Rede, Co. Antrim, which featured as The Stormlands in several episodes of season 3. Discovernorthernireland says, ‘Located along the stunning North Coast close to Carrick-Rede Rope Bridge, this area is exceptional in is natural beauty. Larrybane headland, which once stretched out towards Sheep Island and had a promontory fort on the top dating to 800AD, had large caves underneath which once served as home to boat builders and a safe resting place from winter storms. Despite having been quarried in the 1950s this quarry is still worth a visit for its exceptional views.’

Fans can also visit Ballintoy Harbour, Co. Antrim, which featured as the Iron Islands in season 2; Dark Hedges, Co. Antrim, whose avenue of beech trees featured as the King’s Road north of King’s Landing in season 2, episode 1; and Inch Abbey on the River Quoile, Co. Down, which featured as The Riverlands in season 1, episode 9.

Several other sites are also visited by Nutts Tours and McComb’s Travel in their respective Game of Thrones tours, with more details available on


Flybe celebrates major passenger landmark in Ireland

Flybe, a UK-based regional airline, has celebrated its first major passenger landmark at Ireland West Airport Knock, in August.

The low-cost airline’s 100,000th passenger travelled through the Irish airport on August 22, 2013 on a fight to Manchester. To mark the occasion, minister of state at the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport, Michael Ring TD, presented the passenger with two free return flights to Manchester and tickets to a Manchester United match.

Andrew Strong, Flybe UK MD, said: ‘We’re extremely pleased to be celebrating our 100,000th passenger at Ireland West Knock. Flybe is committed to providing convenient and affordable travel option and we look forward to celebrating our next milestone before too long.’

Welcoming Flybe’s 100,000th passenger at the airport, Michael Ring said ‘I’m delighted to mark the occasion of Flybe’s 100,000th passenger at Ireland West Airport Knock. Flybe continue to provide an invaluable service to the people of the West and North West of Ireland and in particular in 2013, the year of the gathering, they have played an important role in bringing thousands of visitors from Manchester and Edinburgh to this part of Ireland for the many Gathering events.’

Ireland West Airport Knock’s MD, Joe Gilmore, added: ‘We are delighted to welcome Flybe’s 100,000th passenger through the airport. This represents a significant milestone for Flybe at the airport and highlights their commitment to serving the people of the West of Ireland, providing vital connectivity to key markets in the UK and Scotland.’

Flybe launched its first route from Ireland West Knock to Edinburgh in April 2011. A year later, it started the popular four times a week service to its Manchester hub, offering passengers onward flights to 16 Flybe destinations across the UK and Europe.

Aer Lingus Regional launches new route to Newcastle Airport

Aer Lingus Regional has launched a new route to Newcastle Airport and is looking to fly up to 65,000 passengers in the first year.

The route, operated by Aer Arann, will operate two daily return flights to Newcastle from Dublin Airport beginning October 24. Aer Lingus Regional has scheduled 26 flights between Dublin and Newcastle per week at prime times, offering a convenient day return for travellers.

The addition of the Newcastle route is part of the ‘new beginning’ strategy, which was announced by Aer Arann to return the company to profitability in 2014. The measures also included the launch of two other new routes to Manchester and Birmingham.

‘We are delighted to announce the launch of our newest route to Newcastle,’ said Aer Arann’s chief commercial officer, Simon Fagan, adding: ‘This new route connects Aer Lingus Regional passengers with one of the UK’s most vibrant cities and means that the airline is now serving nine major UK cities from Ireland. This new route will add up to 65,000 passengers to our network next year.

‘The Newcastle-Dublin route will facilitate connections to Aer Lingus mainline services to the US for passengers in the North East of England. Aer Lingus Regional aims to connect 3,500 passengers through Dublin in the first 12 months,’ Fagan said, adding: ‘Aer Lingus Regional is committed to providing our customers with easy, convenient and great value in regional connections. We look forward to welcoming our passengers on board this new route to Newcastle.’

Chris Sanders, aviation development director at Newcastle International Airport, said: ‘We’re delighted that Aer Lingus Regional will be operating new services to Dublin this year. This announcement increases the schedule choice for passengers flying from Newcastle on this important route.’

He added: ‘It presents a wide range of connection facilities for travellers which I’m sure will be welcomed by North East holidaymakers and business travellers alike.’

Aer Arann operates 550 flights per week across 25 routes in Ireland, the UK and France. Aer Lingus Regional, which registered a 32 percent rise in passenger numbers in the past 12 months, is looking to double passenger numbers to over two million over the next five years.

Ryanair to launch additional Dublin flights from UK

Irish low-cost airline, Ryanair, has announced additional flights between the UK and Ireland for the coming winter.

The additional daily return flight to Dublin from Stansted and four other UK airports is aimed at offsetting the concerns of competition authorities’ about Ryanair’s stake in Aer Lingus, the Irish airline said.

Ryanair’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, said that competition has intensified in the six-and-a-half years that Ryanair has held its stake, which has led to the introduction of additional flights. He has attempted to take over the rival company on three occasions, but he has been rejected each time by the European commission.

The announcement of additional services comes ahead of a UK Competition Commission ruling that is expected by August 13, and which is likely to order Ryanair to reduce its 29 percent shareholding to protect passenger interests. The competition inquiry is ‘politically motivated’ and we will appeal any ruling against it, O’Leary said. ‘One way or another it’s going to be in courts for the next five years,’ he added.

A provisional ruling in May claimed that Ryanair’s minority stake could harm competition on UK-Ireland routes and block any purchase of Aer Lingus by other airlines. Ryanair has offered to sell its entire stake to any airline offering a full takeover of Aer Lingus, in a bid to stop any ruling forcing it to reduce its stake.

However, Christoph Mueller, chief executive of Aer Lingus, said: ‘The whole argument of Ryanair is that they have no influence [on Aer Lingus] and now they want to sell 80 percent of the company – that is an irony.’

Though a significant group of American passengers travel to continental Europe via Dublin, inbound UK passengers are on the decrease, Mueller said. He also said that the British Airways’ increased capacity on the Dublin-Heathrow route was ‘clearly over and above what that market could afford.’

Around 80 percent of the eight million passengers flying from the UK to Ireland annually fly on Aer Lingus or Ryanair, he said.

Ryanair announces record profits

Ryanair, an Ireland-based low-cost airline, has announced record pre-tax profits for the last financial year.

The airline made a profit of €650.9 million in 2012/13, a 14.6 percent increase on the €568 million that it made in the previous year. An increased number of passengers and increased revenue were the primary reasons given for the record figures.

The company’s revenue increased by 13 percent to €4.88 billion for the last financial year, and it carried a total of 79.3 million passengers, an increase of 5 percent on the previous year. Fuel costs, which rose by 18 percent year-on year, could have impacted negatively on the company’s performance, but this was more than compensated for by a 6 percent increase in average fares.

Ryanair’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, said, ‘Ryanair continues to expand, making meaningful share gains in many of Europe’s largest markets. In addition to being the number one passenger airline in Ireland and Spain, we have in the last 12 months overtaken Alitalia and LOT to become Italy’s and Poland’s number one airline, respectively.

‘Ryanair believes that its unique low cost advantage will enable the airline to achieve a 20 per cent share of the European short-haul market over the next 5 years, particularly given that many of Europe’s high fare incumbents are restructuring and cutting capacity.’

With regards to future growth, O’Leary was optimistic that his company could benefit from expansion at Stansted airport now that it is owned by Manchester Airports Group. Ryanair had previously reduced its capacity at the airport while it was owned by BAA in protest at the fees that it was charging.

O’Leary said, ‘We are in active discussions with the new owners of Stansted airport and the new management at Dublin airport and while no agreements have yet been reached, if a competitive cost base emerges, then we could restart growth at one or other airports as early as September 2013.’

Irish tourism chiefs to make world glow green on St Patrick’s Day

Tourism Ireland, the organisation responsible for promoting tourism to the Irish Republic, has plans to turn several of the world’s most famous landmarks green for a St Patrick’s Day tourism promotion.

Famous global attractions are to be illuminated with emerald green lights on March 17, the day that the Irish nation celebrates its patron saint. On the list to glow green are the Egyptian Pyramids, the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, the Sydney Opera House, the Leaning Tower of Piza, Niagara Falls, the Burj al Arab hotel in Dubai, South Africa’s Table Mountain, the TV Tower in Berlin, the Welcome sign in Las Vegas and the statue of the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen, according to the Irish Times.

Other possible sites are still in abeyance, most notably Buckingham Palace in London. Irish tourism officials have written to the Queen asking her permission to light her palace in green for the day, but the chief executive of Tourism Ireland, Niall Gibbons, has yet to receive confirmation. He commented, ‘I have written to the private secretary [of] the Queen, but we haven’t had a reply yet, We wrote a couple of months ago, but it is a dialogue that is in progress. I wouldn’t be putting any pressure on people.’

The green initiative is intended to boosts Ireland’s tourism potential at a time when the country’s economy could certainly benefit from a cash injection. The historic visit of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to the Republic in 2011 did not open the tourism gates in the way that officials had hoped that it might, and visitor numbers actually fell back by 3 percent last year.

The St. Patrick’s Day project is hoped to raise the country’s tourism profile for a total cost of £29,400.