A Link to Success?

Belfast International’s CEO John Doran has called on the Northern Ireland Executive to partner it for regional economic success. (All -BFS)

Belfast International has opened the second phase of its £10 million redevelopment of the terminal, but CEO John Doran believes his airport can accomplish much more.

Belfast International’s CEO John Doran has called on the Northern Ireland Executive to partner it for regional economic success. (All -BFS)

On December 3, Belfast International opened the second stage of its redevelopment plan.  Known as the airport’s Link, it is a glass-fronted building, 30ft (9m) high and big enough to host a five-a-side football match.
John Doran, the airport’s Chief Executive told businessmen and women and politicians, who attended the opening, that in the last five years more than £50 million of private investment had gone into the airport’s infrastructure.
While he lamented briefly the passing of the building’s previous and iconic moving walkway into history, his focus was very much on the future.
“Much of the money spent here has literally gone into holes in the ground or into equipment that passengers never see but which is nevertheless vital to maintain our infrastructure capacity at a level that can deal effectively with any requirement that the demands of the regional economy can throw at us for the foreseeable future,” said Mr Doran.  “This economic powerhouse for Northern Ireland directly employs 5,500 and accommodates more than 5 million passengers annually.
“As the second largest airport on the island of Ireland it provides vital support to our 24-hour economy with virtually unlimited runway capacity.  The scale of this investment means that Belfast International Airport will have the capacity to cater for absolutely all of the region’s air passenger traffic for decades to come.  But it could do so much more if the Northern Ireland Executive joined it in partnership to develop its full potential for the benefit of the entire region and all its people.”
 
Disappointing
He said it was disappointing and frustrating, for example, that the airport still has a 1960s road network at its front door and no motorway link to the city centre.  Furthermore, he said that while it was accepted that there was underdeveloped tourism potential in Northern Ireland, it was not adequately recognised that strong support for appropriate international air access was urgently required before tourist numbers would appreciably grow.
"The scale of this investment means that Belfast International Airport will have the capacity to cater for absolutely all of the region's air passenger traffic for decades to come. But it could do so much more if the Northern Ireland Executive joined it in partnership to develop its full potential for the benefit of the entire region and all its people," John Doran, CEO Belfast International.

“Why don’t we have a clear commitment from our local administration to develop this economic hub?” asked Mr Doran.  “We need their commitment to an airport that is identified and then earmarked unashamedly for development.  We need buy-in from the Assembly and we need a concerted effort by the Executive to do what is required, including the development of a Regional Aviation Strategy that is linked directly to the needs of the economy through harnessing the key economic assets at its disposal.
“Without such a strategy we fundamentally believe that it is impossible to make a truly informed decision about creating additional runway capacity just 20 miles away.”
He added that only Belfast International Airport has the capacity and potential to deliver for Northern Ireland, like other international airports do for their economies around the world.
“We call on the Northern Ireland Executive to join us in this pursuit,” said Mr Doran.  “We genuinely want to help our administration fully realise its stated economic objectives for the region.”