Belfast City Airport

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Continent: Europe Country: United Kingdom Region: Northern Ireland
Belfast City Airport
Location Belfast, Northern Ireland
Airport type Commercial
Overview map Google Maps
Tower 122.825
Approach 130.85
ATIS 136.625

Located 2 miles from Belfast city centre providing essential business links to Northern Ireland's capital, Belfast City Airport offers a wide range of regional airliners. The peak times of operation are between 0700 and 0830, and between 1600 and 1800.

Official Spotting Locations

Terminal Cafe

The cafe on the first floor of the terminal building overlooks the main apron, and photography is possible from here. The cafe is officially designated a Viewing Area on signage in the terminal, however it is always best to purchase something from the cafe if you are using the tables. Beware of sometimes over-enthuastic security personnel who panic when they see cameras/binoculars. Use of airband radios is not recommended.

As of 2009 this cafe is now airside, ie after security and for passengers only.

Other Spotting Locations

B&Q Car Park

Walk or drive away from the terminal, North East towards Holywood along the A2. Follow the signs to Holywood Exchange, and you will pass a Sainsbury's before coming to a B&Q store. There are grass areas in front of the B&Q and alongside the road where viewing and photography is possible of aircraft approaching runway 22. Alternatively go past the main B&Q entrance about 200 yards and take the signs to the "Warehouse entrance" of B&Q where this end of the store car-park is often empty. Clear views can be had from here of aircraft on approach and short finals, all from the comfort of your car!

Old Terminal Car Park and Sydenham Railway Bridge

The old Terminal car park is no longer used, however still has a manned security hut overlooking the area. It is possible to photograph aircraft using the old Terminal for General Aviation purposes, however an extended stay to photograph the movements will result in you being moved to the footbridge linking the airport with the nearby Sydenham Railway Station. The footbridge enables good views and photography of aircraft departing runway 22, and arriving and departing runway 04. Parking in the old Terminal car park is not permitted for any length of time, however parking is available off the main dual carriageway under the footbridge.

Ikea Car Park

Close to B&Q (see above) but turn left upon entering Holywood Exchange (rather than right). The newly opened (December '07) Ikea has a multi-story open-roof car park that offers great views of runways 4 and 22. Unfortunately the multi-story car park is closed to cars on weekdays but you can park on the ground level and walk up the stairs to the top floor. Local enthusiasts have a reasonable understanding with Ikea management and spotters/photographers are generally tolerated. On weekends you should be able to park your car right beside the fence on level 3. If it is busy, you might not get a space overlooking the runway, but this would be fairly uncommon. This place is ideal for those who like to spot from the car with the SBS radar box alongside!

Expect a few weird looks from the public if photographing, but you shouldn't get bothered by Ikea staff. Overall, the multi-story is only open during store opening hours - on a Sunday this means you won't get onto the carpark top level until around 1300hrs.

One area to try and ignore is the mound by the airfield fence just across the road from the car park. Ikea and the airport authorities are trying to promote plant growth in this area and frown upon anyone trampling the plants in this area - you may be asked to leave.

See for example photo.

Regular Traffic

FlyBe is by far the main airline at Belfast City, with a large number of Dash 8 Q400s based along with a few Embraer 195's and occasional flights by their SF340's. Ryanair also operate a growing number of routes to the UK mainland with their B738's, one of which is based. BMi fly the flagship route to London Heathrow with an Airbus A321/320/319. Aer Arann operates an ATR42/72 service to Cork and Manx2 serves the Isle of Man with a variety of equipment, usually a Let410, Dornier 228 or Metro. There are also daily air mail operations to various UK mainland locations usually operated by a Cessna 310 or similar. General Aviation movements usually total 2 or 3 a day, generally biz jets, however there is a based Pilatus PC12 usually to be found on the ramp outside the old terminal.

Facilities and Transportation

The cafe mentioned above has airport priced food and drink, and there is a newsagents on the ground floor of the terminal building. There is a regular bus service from outside the terminal to the Europa Bus Station in the centre of the city which costs just a few pounds.

Amendment to the Tower Frequency

This has changed recently from 130.75 to 122.825