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      Tuesday 17 Feb 2009

      George Best Belfast City Airport has officially launched its Community Fund, a voluntary initiative which will see funds donated to charity for flights leaving or departing the airport outside the scheduled operating hours. That is between 21:30 and 23:59.
      The Community Fund was established by the airport with the aim of managing the number of requests made by airlines for extensions outside scheduled operating hours.

      The airport has applied a self-imposed fine system, recommended by the Examination in Public (EIP), for flights that run after 9.45pm, with the money going to a chosen charity as well as helping to fund local community projects.

      The airport is pleased to announce that the number of extensions granted in 2008 fell by 28% from 2007, with a further decrease expected to be achieved again in 2009.

      Brian Ambrose, Chief Executive of the airport, said:

      “George Best Belfast City Airport has the most limited operating hours of any airport in the UK, therefore a 28% reduction in flight extensions is significant and highly credible given that last year was the busiest in the airport’s history.

      “Belfast City Airport operates to the highest possible standards and, considering that there are over 100 flights a day, the fact that less than 3% of delays are caused by the airport authority demonstrates our commitment to handling this issue.”

      The Community Fund launch follows the Examination in Public (EIP) recommendations and discussions with the Planning Service in relation to the modification of the Planning Agreement.

      The agreed fining system outlines that flights after 9.45pm will be charged £50, after 10pm will be charged £100, after 10.30pm, £300, and £600 after 11pm. The airport will also impose an additional £200 fine for each delayed flight in excess of 600 per annum.

      The distribution of the Community Fund will initially be via the Energy for Children Charitable Trust, founded by Phoenix Natural Gas, but now supported by a number of different sectors, which help with the Trust’s aim to raise substantial funds for local disadvantaged children. However the airport has also been engaging directly with local community groups in the East Belfast and North Down areas to identify projects that could benefit from the fund. Since its inception in November 2008, the Community Fund has generated over £6,000.

      Peter Dixon, Chairman of the Energy for Children Charitable Trust, said:

      “Our aim, where possible, is to support and provide a better standard of life for children and young persons in Northern Ireland who are in need or disadvantaged, whether materially, physically, mentally or emotionally and to help enhance their lives.”

      George Best Belfast City Airport welcomes any proposals from community organisations, which would like to avail of the fund. Those interested should contact Ruth Kimbley, the airport’s Communications Executive, by emailing