Around 40% of all passengers using City of Derry Airport hail from Donegal, Council chief executive John Kelpie has revealed.
Speaking after a presentation on the current business plan for the airport, which is subsidised by ratepayers from Derry and Strabane, Independent Councillor Patsy Kelly said he supported the airport’s development , but said “a few questions have to be asked”.
Speaking about the catchment area for the airport, he said: “When you got to the map you see it covers the North West of Ireland yet this council and its ratepayers are the only people paying. Why not ask neighbouring councils? There are three other neighbouring councils in Northern Ireland and also Donegal. “
Chairman of City of Derry Airport Roy Devine said it was an issue for council to take forward potential contributions from other areas.
Chief executive John Kelpie said that 40% of passengers at City of Derry Airport originate in Donegal, adding that a “much smaller number” come from the areas surrounding on the north side of the border.
Mr Kelpie said that Donegal has provided marketing support and that there has been engagement the council there, as well as very positive talks at government levels over recent times regarding the airport’s future.
He added that in the future, through North West Partnership arrangements, Donegal may become involved in group development activity.
Sinn Fein Councillor Eric McGinley said his party “firmly believe the having an airport is an asset for the region,” while SDLP Councillor John Boyle said it was vital for “connectivity to other parts of these islands first and foremost”.
Independent Colr. Gary Donnelly however claimed that it terms of the airport’s future “it’s beginning to look like we are flogging a dead horse”.