04th May 2004


<p>The General Consumer Council will be taking the voice of air passengers to Westminster today (4 May) to renew its call for the long-term future of the Belfast to Heathrow air route to be secured.</p>

The Council has long campaigned for Northern Ireland slots to London Heathrow to be guaranteed.  It was the only organisation to give evidence to the House of Commons Transport Select Committee as part of its Inquiry on Aviation last year. The Committee subsequently supported the view that regional access should be secured at the UK's premier hub airport.

However, despite this, the Government's White Paper on Aviation published in December 2003 did not answer the question of how to guarantee flights to Heathrow.

Alan Walker, Head of Consumer Affairs at the General Consumer Council will be giving the Northern Ireland perspective at the Westminster seminar - Regional Economic Development and Air Access to Heathrow and Gatwick, organised by Calum Macdonald, MP for the Western Isles.  Speakers include Gwyneth Dunwoody MP, Chairman of the Transport Select Committee, MPs, the British Airports' Authority, the European Union and representatives from the UK regions.

Alan Walker said:

“Secure access to Heathrow is vital for the economic development of the region.  Government needs to take action and seek changes to EU rules, which will allow protected access to secure the long-term future of our air link.

“Northern Ireland has enjoyed some good news on the air front recently with the introduction of new routes to France and Spain.  These routes are welcome but will not meet the all the travel needs of passengers, which is why our links to Heathrow remain so important.

“Heathrow provides a gateway to the rest of the world on a scale unmatched by any other UK airport.  Our location and lack of direct air services to destinations outside the UK mean Heathrow is essential for local passengers and businesses.     However, in recent years we have seen our Belfast to Heathrow services fall from 15 to just 8 flights per day. 

“We will continue to play our part and ensure that the voice of local leisure and business passengers is heard.”


1. General Consumer Council media contact: Susie Brown, telephone, 028 9067 4807 or or e-mail, [email protected]
2. The General Consumer Council is an independent consumer organisation, working to bring about change to benefit Northern Ireland's consumers. The Council campaigns for high standards of service and protection and a fair deal for all. It also carries out research, gives advice and publishes reports and other publications. It deals with individual complaints about electricity, natural gas, coal and passenger transport.
3. For more information, visit our website at