Airport in talks at ‘all levels’ amid uncertainty over return of Ryanair routes

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The managing director of City of Derry Airport said they are working “at all levels” to maintain and improve connectivity to the north west after Ryanair halted its routes to Edinburgh and Liverpool as part of a wider withdrawal of internal UK flights.

Ryanair announced back in late December days before the Brexit transition period ended that it was halting routes to numerous UK locations due to what it said where “flights permissions not being granted by UK Civil Aviation Authority”.

Steve Frazer, managing director of City of Derry Airport, said they have been in constant contact with Ryanair and others since the announcement. However it remains uncertain when, or even if, the popular routes from Derry to the Scottish capital and Liverpool, and numerous other Ryanair routes from different UK airports affected will return.

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The Derry routes were still listed on Ryanair’s website yesterday, there are currently no available booking dates.

Steve Frazer, Managing Director, City of Derry Airport.Steve Frazer, Managing Director, City of Derry Airport.
Steve Frazer, Managing Director, City of Derry Airport.

While COVID and travel restrictions have had a massive impact on the global air industry generally, the issue which has grounded many domestic Ryanair routes across the UK relates to regulatory measures centred on the use of ‘wet-leased, foreign-registered’ aircraft in the UK.

Ryanair said back in December that it would have to cancel its routes from Derry and 11 other UK domestic and international services due to what it claimed was the CAA’s “sudden change of policy.”

The operator claimed that 10 days before the end of the Brexit transition phase, the CAA had “inexplicably introduced new regulatory barriers”.

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Responding to that, Paul Smith at the UK CAA, claimed the body had not changed its wet-leasing policy at short notice. “It has been our long-standing position that a UK airline with a significant presence in the UK, such as Ryanair UK does, should not rely heavily on using wet-leased, foreign-registered aircraft to undertake their operations,” he said.

It is understood there is still the potential for a solution to be found, but so far no agreement has been reached.

Mr Frazer told the Journal yesterday: “From a CoDA perspective, the importance of connectivity for the North West and supporting our regional economy is critical.

“As we begin a recovery period and our passengers are ready to fly again, we are already working at all levels within airlines, airports and governments to ensure that connectivity for the North West is maintained and improved. We will keep our passengers up to date with our progress in due course.”