Video: £7.5m aid package could see ‘new industry’ fly at City of Derry Airport

City of Derry Airport has confirmed the £7.5m investment package announced for the local facility earlier this month will help it advance plans for a maintenance and repair operation at Eglinton, which, it says, will be a new industry, not only for Derry, but for the whole of the North.

The Airport confirmed the aid package would help develop such a facility after Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir alluded to the airport’s plans to provide manufacturing space at the terminal.

Mr Ó Muilleoir said: “I believe that the efforts by Eglinton to try to focus on manufacturing in order to get an extra impetus and stimulus to leverage the asset that it has is the right way forward.”

Earlier, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness had promised that the “plans we are pursuing at the moment...are bigger than just airplanes into the airport.”

A spokesperson for City of Derry Airport confirmed the funding package will help it further its plans for a manufacturing and maintenance hub.

“With regard to the infrastructural investment, the spokesperson said that the NI Executive funding package will assist CoDA to advance with its proposed development of an aviation Maintenance and Repair Operation (MRO), that is outlined in the Airport Masterplan 2012 , which if successful, would be a new industry, not only for the North West region but for Northern Ireland,” a spokesperson said.

The masterplan of 2012 proposed, among other developments, creating an ‘Aviation Business Park’ in the long-term.

It suggested a business park could host offices and light industry and deliver a mix of employment opportunities.

“Airport locations are attractive to aviation related businesses such as manufacturers and supply companies who are direct suppliers to the aerospace industry, for which airside access is essential,” the plan said.

“They will also appeal to other time-sensitive manufacturers and distributors, particularly of high value to-weight products such as microelectronics, pharmaceuticals, digitized auto parts, medical instruments and perishables,” it added.

The Airport is currently keeping its cards close to its chest in terms of how much can be achieved with the £7.5m in terms of the manufacturing hub.

The Airport spokesperson said: “The funding package announced by the NI Executive allows the airport to continue with the positive work it is doing to secure new air routes and identify new carriers, as well as advancing with its plans for developing the infrastructure.”

The spokesperson explained that it is also continuing to work closely with the Department of Transport to advance with the process of securing a Public Service Obligation (PSO) to operate a direct route from Derry to a London hub airport.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin Seanadóir Niall Ó Donnghaile has called on the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross TD, to meet with the Board of City of Derry Airport and to play an active role in supporting the airport.

“The airport itself is ideally located between both the Wild Atlantic Way and the Northern Coastal Route and over 40 per cent of the Airport’s passengers already come from Donegal,” he said.

“It makes economic and social sense that the Irish government would assist in efforts to see the airport flourish and grow. The net benefactor will of course be the Irish economy and people both north and south especially those living in the North West,” he added.