Airport chief hopes to secure Madrid, Paris routes

Newly appointed City of Derry Airport manager, Damien Tierney, has confirmed that he's in talks with Ryanair to develop routes between Derry and a number of key European cities - including Paris and Madrid.

Mr. Tierney - who's just taken up his new role - also revealed that he's "hopeful" of announcing new routes to both Irish and British destinations before Christmas.

"We have to secure smaller complementary routes that the big low cost airlines don't fly to," he told 'Sunday Journal'. "They would be business-type destinations within the UK and Ireland - places like Manchester, Edinburgh, Bristol and, possibly, into one of the business hubs in London like Gatwick or Heathrow.

"For City of Derry Airport to move forward and to fulfil our business plan, we have to get these airlines on board and we are discussing this type of route development with two of the main carriers in that market. We are hopeful that we will have some indication of what their decision is before Christmas."

Mr. Tierney added that the airport is also currently in talks with low cost carrier Ryanair about the possibility of developing routes to European destinations.

"We would like to develop more routes with Ryanair," he says. "Obviously, people want to go to the sunshine destinations but we are in talks with Ryanair about developing routes to European cities such as Paris and Madrid."

Mr. Tierney confirmed that the Council's Airport Committee is looking at investment from the private sector and refused to rule out the possibility that the local authority may sell the airport.

"The Council will maintain itsthe ownership in the initial stages after setting up three companies to run the airport. One of the main focuses is on private investment and, at the minute, the Council is out there trying to find out if there is an appetite for it.

"How that is going to pan out, we just don't know. Obviously, if three companies meet the Council's demands, then that could result in a partial or even total sell off of the airport but it remains to be seen. It's vital that we get more private investment because that, in turn, will reduce the amount of money that Derry City Council have to inject into the airport on an annual basis."