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Jet2 airport withdrawal over safety

A Jet2 plane08/04/13

By Will Roberts

An airline says it won't operate from Belfast International Airport until it has received reassurances over the safety of a runway resurfacing project.

Jet2 ceased all activity at the airport on Sunday, saying it was concerned about the runway maintenance scheme, which has encountered delays in recent weeks due to the adverse weather.

The airport says Jet2 reported one aircraft had encountered "engine related problems" three times in the last three weeks, but insisted that no other aircraft - either from Jet2 or any other carrier - had reported an issue during that period, during which the resurfacing programmes had been disrupted due to cold, wet and snowy weather.

Confirming that the airport had launched an investigation, a spokeswoman for the County Antrim airport said additional precautionary measures had been put in place .

The airline says the withdrawal is only temporary until the issue is resolved, with a further announcement about international flights expected later in the week. In the meantime, Jet2's scheduled flight between Belfast International and Leeds today will now fly from nearby George Best Belfast City Airport.

Ian Doubtfire, managing director of Jet2.com, said: "We took the difficult decision to cease operations at Belfast International Airport at midnight on Sunday 7th April 2013.

"This is due to increased safety concerns during the current runway maintenance programme.

"Our domestic flights operating on Monday 8th April between Belfast and Leeds will operate from Belfast City Airport. All passengers on these flights should either check in at Belfast International or head straight to Belfast City Airport.

"We would like to apologise for any inconvenience this may cause; however, the safety of our customers is of paramount importance and we will not operate from Belfast International Airport until we have reassurances on the runway maintenance."

The spokeswoman from Belfast International Airport said: "We can confirm that we are engaged in an extensive runway resurfacing project at Belfast International, but the unseasonal weather has prevented any substantive work taking place for almost three weeks.

"During this down-time, one Jet2 aircraft has been reported as exhibiting engine-related problems on three occasions.

"No other airline, nor indeed any other Jet2 aircraft or aircraft of this type, has reported any similar issue.

"A full investigation is under way to assess what actually occurred. At this stage, there is no conclusive evidence connecting these reported problems with the runway maintenance at Belfast International Airport."

She added: "At all times, aircraft and passenger safety is the main priority at Belfast International Airport. Safety is non-negotiable. It is never taken for granted."


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