A57, M2 to Belfast International Airport Link


Construction scheme (proposed)
To improve road access to Belfast International Airport from the M2 motorway, via the A57
Total Length
11 km / 7 miles

Scheme has been discussed since the 1960s
2014 - feasibility study into options for links from M1 and M2 to Belfast International Airport undertaken

No current plans to proceed - as of Dec 2016

See below
See Also

General area map - Google Maps

B95 road on this site

Click here to jump straight down to updates for this scheme.

Belfast International Airport is situated at Aldergrove, just south of Antrim town. Despite being a very busy airport (handling 5.3 million passengers in 2007) it has relatively poor road access (and no rail access, despite an existing railway line running less than a mile from the terminal). By road, the route from Belfast is to leave the M2 motorway at junction 5 and drive along a two-lane single-carriageway road, the A57, for 7 miles. This road involves driving through the small town of Templepatrick, and over a level-crossing, but is otherwise a very straight, safe road. Problems arise at peak periods, when the lack of overtaking opportunities results in driver frustration, longer journey times and increased chances of accidents occuring.

Ideas to upgrade or replace the road with a dual-carriageway have been proposed many times since the 1960s. It is possible, although there is no firm evidence, that the number "M21" was reserved in the 1960s for a motorway running from junction 6 of the M2 south towards Aldergrove. In Antrim there is the B95 dual-carriageway which is the only existing part of an abandoned plan for a bypass round the sotuh of the town; however this is not related to Belfast International Airport. If a dual-carriageway link were to be constructed today, it would be more likely to either follow the current A57 route and leave the M2 at junction 5, or else be an upgrade of the existing A26.


27 Dec 2016: It has been over eight years since I last updated this page, because nothing has really happened to take forward what is still just a suggestion, not even a concrete plan. An update is justified to comment on an Oral Answer in the Assembly in March, when the then-DRD Minister was asked about plans to dual the A57 in order to improve access to the Airport. Her reply was that "In 2014, TransportNI commissioned a feasibility study to identify potential options to improve strategic links between the M1 and M2/M22 and Belfast International Airport. A number of potential route corridors were examined...". This is not something I was aware of before now. However, we do have to be careful because a follow up comment from the Minister shows that these options are broader than just the A57, and could equally mean an upgrade of the existing A26 which runs between the M1 and M2, from Moira to Antrim, bypassing the airport. She said "the study identified a number of potential route corridors, including improvements to the A26 and A57". Nor does she state that the "options" involve a full dual-carriageway upgrade. The Minister goes on to state that "The next stage will be to refine the options with a view to undertaking a more detailed options appraisal. As with everything, progress will, obviously, be subject to funding." This wording suggests that some kind of formal appraisal will be done at some point in the future, but that it is not a priority and in practice no work may in fact be currently taking place. So I would not expect to hear much more in the short to medium term.

3 Mar 2008: Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy has mentioned this proposal, as reported in the Belfast Telegraph. The article says "Mr Murphy said private sector finance would help accelerate plans to create a dual carriageway road link from the M2 at Templepatrick to Belfast International Airport". This could mean that the airport might have to pay for the road if they want it, or possibly that some kind of public/private partnership could be considered. Either way, the scheme is unlikely to happen in the foreseeble future.


The existing A57 running through the small town of Templepatrick, seen here in 2003. All traffic from Belfast accessing the airport via the M2 uses this route. [Wesley Johnston]