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easyJet to introduce extra flights from Belfast International Airport

Boost in services in response to "increasing customer demand".

EasyJet has announced that it will introduce extra flights from Belfast International Airport for a number of routes from October, including those to Edinburgh, London and Manchester.

Northern Ireland’s largest airline will also launch its first service from Belfast International Airport to Birmingham on 22 October. All other changes will be effective from 28 October.

With its Edinburgh service expansion, the airline’s Monday flights will increase from three to four; those on Tuesday and Wednesday will increase from two to three. There will be three flights to Manchester on Monday, Thursday and Friday – up from the current two daily flights.

For the airline’s four London destinations (Gatwick, Luton, Southend and Stansted), there will be extra flights on weekday mornings and evenings.

Ali Gayward, commercial manager at easyJet, said:

Our aim has always been to make travel easy and affordable and we remain committed to Northern Ireland. We are adding these extra flights in response to increasing customer demand for easyJet services.

Edinburgh and Manchester are important centres for the business community and also for leisure travellers, including people going there for our popular city breaks. We operate up to 13 flights daily from Belfast to London, significantly more than any other airline, but demand is such that the extra morning and evening flights are essential.

easyJet’s recently launched fourth route to London – London Southend – has already proved extremely popular, with a direct train link taking passengers to Liverpool Street Station and the City of London in under 55 minutes. Also, easyJet is now the only airline on the Belfast [to] Bristol route and has increased capacity through using larger aircraft.

Uel Hoey, business development director at Belfast International Airport, said:

We very much appreciate easyJet’s long-established commitment to developing its service and providing stability for millions of Northern Ireland air travellers over the years. We are delighted that the airline is again demonstrating a willingness to explore new horizons in support of Northern Ireland’s economic growth.

Gayward added:

There has been a warm welcome for our new flexi fares, which give passengers unlimited flexibility to change the date of their flights up to two hours before the scheduled departure time. We are also trialing allocated seating.

Photo: Getty Images
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When will the government take action to tackle the plight of circus animals?

Britain is lagging behind the rest of the world - and innocent animals are paying the price. 

It has been more than a year since the Prime Minister reiterated his commitment to passing legislation to impose a ban on the suffering of circus animals in England and Wales. How long does it take to get something done in Parliament?

I was an MP for more than two decades, so that’s a rhetorical question. I’m well aware that important issues like this one can drag on, but the continued lack of action to help stop the suffering of animals in circuses is indefensible.

Although the vast majority of the British public doesn’t want wild animals used in circuses (a public consultation on the issue found that more than 94 per cent of the public wanted to see a ban implemented and the Prime Minister promised to prohibit the practice by January 2015, no government bill on this issue was introduced during the last parliament.

A private member’s bill, introduced in 2013, was repeatedly blocked in the House of Commons by three MPs, so it needs a government bill to be laid if we are to have any hope of seeing this practice banned.

This colossal waste of time shames Britain, while all around the world, governments have been taking decisive action to stop the abuse of wild animals in circuses. Just last month, Catalonia’s Parliament overwhelmingly voted to ban it. While our own lawmakers dragged their feet, the Netherlands approved a ban that comes into effect later this year, as did Malta and Mexico. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, North America’s longest-running circus, has pledged to retire all the elephants it uses by 2018. Even in Iran, a country with precious few animal-welfare laws, 14 states have banned this archaic form of entertainment. Are we really lagging behind Iran?

The writing has long been on the wall. Only two English circuses are still clinging to this antiquated tradition of using wild animals, so implementing a ban would have very little bearing on businesses operating in England and Wales. But it would have a very positive impact on the animals still being exploited.

Every day that this legislation is delayed is another one of misery for the large wild animals, including tigers, being hauled around the country in circus wagons. Existing in cramped cages and denied everything that gives their lives meaning, animals become lethargic and depressed. Their spirits broken, many develop neurotic and abnormal behaviour, such as biting the bars of their cages and constantly pacing. It’s little wonder that such tormented creatures die far short of their natural life spans.

Watching a tiger jump through a fiery hoop may be entertaining to some, but we should all be aware of what it entails for the animal. UK laws require that animals be provided with a good quality of life, but the cruelty inherent in confining big, wild animals, who would roam miles in the wild, to small, cramped spaces and forcing them to engage in unnatural and confusing spectacles makes that impossible in circuses.

Those who agree with me can join PETA’s campaign to urge government to listen to the public and give such animals a chance to live as nature intended.


The Right Honourable Ann Widdecombe was an MP for 23 years and served as Shadow Home Secretary. She is a novelist, documentary maker and newspaper columnist.