Hannon hopeful of bus breakthrough

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The boss of the private bus firm Hannon Coach is hopeful of eventually delivering an express bus service from Glasgow to Derry.

Aodh Hannon, director of the Aghalee-based company, is still waiting for a Department of Infrastructure (DfI) decision on an application to run a service between Derry and Belfast.

This route, if it eventually goes ahead, will link up with Hannon’s Glasgow Express service to Scotland’s largest city. Mr. Hannon revealed that the Glasgow to Belfast link has been extremely successful to date and has been a boost to the local tourism industry.

For example, 27 per cent of those travelling on the Glasgow to Belfast service in its first year of operation were international tourists.

“It’s been a highly successful first year for the service. We knew international visitors and backpackers were going to be an important market, but we never imagined that we would carry so many different nationalities or that they would prove to be a quarter of the overall business.

“Traditional backpackers and gap year students have undoubtedly been a major factor in the success, but, the ‘Grey Dollar’ from USA, Australia and Canada has also been a key element,” he said.

The Hannon Coach boss said its plans to run a service from Derry to Belfast remained in the freezer.

The application to run the service, first lodged over two years ago, remains with DfI, which, of course, is currently without a minister. But Mr Hannon appeared to be optimistic on the permit front.

“Hopefully we will get the permit issue resolved within the next few months. Maybe next summer we will see some of those international visitors heading Derry’s way,” he said.