Thriving airport vital for business: Eastwood

Happier times. Laura McCormack from Ryanair preparing to jet off to Faro in Portugal after the airline announced a second international route for City of Derry Airport to add to the already popular Alicante flight in 2009. Helping to pack her bags were Damien Tierney, City of Derry Airport manager and the then, Councillor Colm Eastwood, Chairman of the airport committee.  Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 16.12.09
Happier times. Laura McCormack from Ryanair preparing to jet off to Faro in Portugal after the airline announced a second international route for City of Derry Airport to add to the already popular Alicante flight in 2009. Helping to pack her bags were Damien Tierney, City of Derry Airport manager and the then, Councillor Colm Eastwood, Chairman of the airport committee. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 16.12.09

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has called on the Northern Ireland Executive to cough up for Derry in the same manner as it coughed up £9m for a transatlantic route from Belfast to New York, saying it’s critical for the local economy that City of Derry Airport thrives.

Mr Eastwood made the comments in the wake of this week’s shock announcement that Ryanair will end its routes to London Stansted and Faro from April of next year.

Ryanair’s also cutting its Liverpool service from five flights a week to two.

Mr Eastwood said: “Businesses in Derry are already operating in an extremely difficult trading environment.

“Ryanair’s announcement will come as a bitter blow to them as they try to create jobs in market that depends on effective transport infrastructure.

“A thriving airport is essential for the economic development of the North West and for too long has the local council been expected to carry the burden alone.”

Mr Eastwood referred to the recent reports that £9m has been stumped up, mostly by Stormont, to secure the future of United Airlines’ route from Belfast International Airport to Newark, New Jersey.

“The Executive put up £9million to save the route between New York and Belfast and the people of Derry deserve no less,” said Mr Eastwood.

He said the Executive needs to follow the example of St Andrew’s House and move quickly to support the strategically important City of Derry Airport.

“The Scottish Government acted quickly and decisively to protect their regional airports and the Executive must now do the same,” he said.

He also called on Leinster House to take action by reintroducing public funding for the Derry to Dublin route.

“The Dublin Government could also help by moving to reinstate PSO funding for the route between Derry and Dublin.”