Transport
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17th December 2002

Consumer Council hits out at BA’s service withdrawals

<p>Northern Ireland’s transport watchdog, the General Consumer Council, today expressed its disappointment at British Airways’ announcement of cutbacks in services from Belfast from March 2003.</p>

Reacting to the BA announcement Alan Walker, Consumer Affairs Officer, said:

“This is an unwelcome Christmas present BA has given to its Northern Ireland air passengers. Any reduction in our access to the UK regions is worrying. Yet again Northern Ireland passengers are bearing the brunt of BA cutbacks following their withdrawal in recent times from routes to Heathrow, Liverpool and Sheffield. The loss of the Aberdeen route is a particular blow for many who holiday in the Highlands of Scotland and perhaps those who depend on the link to access their workplace in the North Sea oil fields. On the other routes, it will result in a loss of competition between airlines.

“We also note that other regions are losing access to London hub airports including Gatwick. This highlights the importance of the UK Government taking action to secure slots for regional flights at Heathrow and Gatwick airports to protect further erosion of links with the UK’s main hub airports. This is particularly important for people in Northern Ireland who depend on the link with Heathrow for access to many international destinations.

“It all seems ironic just months after the Government published proposals suggesting that the number of routes out of Northern Ireland could increase significantly over the next 30 years. Government needs to look carefully at the role of remote regional air services in a profit driven industry.”

ENDS

General Consumer Council media contact: Susie Blaney, 028 9067 2488 or [email protected]

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