The chairman of City of Derry airport says that proposed flights to Dublin will happen, once the last remaining issues are sorted out.
Roy Devine was speaking earlier this week at the launch of Ryanair’s Derry Winter programme.
Although no new flights are on offer, the lost cost airline have committed to three routes over the winter period: five to Glasgow International, five to Liverpool and nine weekly flights to London Stansted.
Kate Sherry. Deputy Director of route development explained that the issue of Air Passenger Duty is preventing City of Derry airport from becoming more competitive.
“Fares are lower in Dublin and there’s more choice because there’s no APD,” she said. “Dublin airport receives 1.1 million passengers from Northern Ireland each year.”
Since Ryanair first came to Derry in 1999 they have carried 4.5m passengers, and this year they will carry 300,000 passengers.
“For every passenger that leaves City of Derry Ryanair pays £13 to Westminster government,” explained Kate. “And as most flights are domestic we also pay £13 on the return flight.
“The overall bill in Derry annually for APD is £4m.
“Passenger tax is holding back competitiveness and growth in Derry, We know that’s the case because it makes the costs too high for the airport to compete with other airports.
“The NI executive really needs to get behind the airport part since airports in the Republic of Ireland are much cheaper to fly from, they should at least abolish APD on traffic growth.”
Roy Devine said that the ambition was for the airport to break even by the end of the decade, but at the moment this was a challenge.
“This can only be achieved by growth at the airport,” he said. “For the Derry-Dublin flight the slots have been confirmed and the aircraft confirmed, there are just a few remaining issues. While we cannot commit to a date we would like to see the flights start in late Spring or early Summer.
“It’s my belief the city would be weakened if the airport was not here. It’s our challenge to grow it.”
To celebrate the launch the winter 2016 schedule, Ryanair are releasing seats for sale from £19.99 for travel in November, which are available for booking until April 14.