Derry City and Strabane District Council has today appointed BMI Regional to operate the City of Derry Airport to London Stansted route following a competitive tender process.
The route will run initially twice daily on a 49-seater jet aircraft, with an early morning departure each day enabling commuters from the region to arrive in Central London before 9.00 am and complete a full day’s business before returning on an early evening flight.
The service will operate as a Public Service Obligation (PSO) route for an initial two-year period with support funding provided by the Department for Transport and a subvention of up to £260,000 per annum from Council.
Welcoming the closure of the tender process and the successful outcome of the negotiations with the Department for Transport, Derry City and Strabane District Council Chief Executive John Kelpie said Council and CoDA have been working tirelessly, since the decision by Ryanair to cease operating their London route from March this year, to secure a new operator for the route.
“Following that decision last year, Council embarked on a challenging and complicated process of securing a PSO route from CoDA to London.
“We are extremely pleased that this process is now successfully completed and we are in a position to appoint bmi regional to operate this route. We are delighted to retain this important link with London and provide a route that will offer timings that are conveniently scheduled for a full working day at either destination and that offers connectivity in terms of interlining, with adequate capacity and competitive fares.
“Maintaining frequent, conveniently scheduled air services to London is vitally important for the economic development of the North West City region and for the development of our regional economy and the social development of our region,” he said.
Jochen Schnadt, chief commercial officer of BMI Regional, commented: “The North West region of Ireland is undergoing a sustained period of economic growth, and has received significant investment in new jobs and growth projects over the past 12 months.
“It is important for businesses that the region is well connected to the UK capital and bmi regional is proud to be bringing its quality, premium product to this route.
“Whereas previously business travellers between Derry and London have had to stay overnight in the city, with our new double daily flights they will now be able to commute there and back in a day, saving both money and time, and hopefully resulting in continued economic growth for the Derry region.”
The Chairman of the CoDA Board, Roy Devine, while acknowledging that CoDA is operating in a difficult economic climate with many challenges including APD, said he was confident the Airport was entering a new era. He said the Council and CoDA will continue to explore further opportunities for the development of the airport which would include securing routes to other UK hubs utilising the support funding announced last year by the Northern Ireland Executive and adding further summer sun rotations and other potential charters.
Members attending the Special Council meeting also agreed that CoDA will provide an updated business case and forecast to Council in the autumn once the route has been established.
Council Chief Executive John Kelpie added: “Council and CoDA continues to work closely with all relevant stakeholders to improve air access to the region and provide a facility and service that is fit for purpose and a key driver to the local economy. The Airport remains an important regional gateway that is an essential part of the future development of the North West City region and we remain committed to ensuring that CoDA, is the airport of choice for the North West of Ireland, offering both convenience and excellent customer service.”