Belfast doesn’t need direct flight to Canada

For some reason – inexplicable to me but demonstrative of our politicians’ complete lack of economic nous – there is a campaign for a direct flight connection from Belfast to Toronto.

This is straightforward wrong-headedness. Even the connection from Belfast to New York – the largest city in North America and main economic centre of the world’s superpower – is loss-making and effectively now subsidised by the Northern Ireland ratepayer (through lower air duty). Has any of the MLAs nonsensically promoting a Toronto link been challenged on exactly how much subsidy that would require – all for an air link to a city half the size of London in a country with half the population of the UK?

It is astonishing, frankly, that any politician could advocate a link to a distant city on another continent in a country of 30 million, while missing the obvious fact that we have no direct link to nearby cities on this continent in a country of 80 million! Germany is Europe’s obvious economic power and engine; it is the UK’s largest trade partner; and Northern Ireland has not a single air link to it!

Sure, Canada and Northern Ireland have long-standing heritage links – but that is not what highly subsidised air links are for! Those who wish to pursue them can quite happily travel via Dublin. What we need, for jobs and wealth creation, is a proper trading link to our largest economic partner right here on our doorstep.

We need a direct link to Frankfurt, not Toronto or anywhere else.


5 thoughts on “Belfast doesn’t need direct flight to Canada

  1. davedonnelly says:

    Agreed. I travel to Germany frequently for work. I love connecting flights through London or driving home from Dublin at 11:30pm… Not. We often end up staying the night in Heathrow hotels which is just a waste of money.

  2. I generally agree, on two counts. I use Dublin Airport for direct flights to the European continent (I and many business colleagues would love to have ANY such offer from Belfast airports). And when travelling to the USA, it’s only 1h50m bus journey to the airport and you pre-clear USA immigration (and air fares are very competitive).

    But there is one matter that always causes me a pause when flying out of Ireland — your UK-based travel insurer will not cover any flight that does not originate out of the UK. While other aspects remained valid (e.g. hotel burglary, medical treatment), anything related to your flight (cancellation, lost luggage) is not.

    Any UK or Ireland travel insurer that will cover me for both UK and Ireland flights will get a new customer!

  3. andyboal says:

    We went Swissair to Italy and Lufthansa back on our honeymoon – so much cheaper and more convenient to fly from Dublin and avoid the British rip-off APD than change at Heathrow.

    Thankfully, Easyjet does BFS-CDG at pretty decent prices!

  4. Let’s be honest, Belfast’s airports are still seen largely as holiday hubs, not business airports. 11 direct Spanish destinations (but not Madrid!!), 3 destinations in Turkey, but no direct service to Germany, Brussels, UAE, any BRICS destination!

    The vast majority of business travellers aren’t just attracted to Dublin through lower taxes, they are compelled to go there for direct flight options (BRICS excluded).

    It’s a shame as Aldergrove particularly has got pretty decent aerodrome infrastructure- it’s well equipped and can fairly easily accept wide body long haul aircraft. The connecting infrastructure, however, (roads, rail links etc.) is poor. City has the connecting infrastructure (although try walking from the train station to the airport!) but is limited on the size of aircraft it can accept.

    If Dublin builds a rail connection to the airport enabling a fast transfer via Enterprise from Belfast, it’ll do both NI airports out of business!

  5. The Listner says:

    As you have indicated the reason the venture is raised, is because there are many family links between NI and Toronto. It is probably the city in Canada with the most such links, with Victoria, B C coming in second. Thus the logic about business connections does not rise to the forefront in the minds of most commentators.

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