Council aims to tender Derry to London PSO route later this year

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Derry City and Strabane District Council is aiming to re-tender the City of Derry Airport (CoDA) to London route later this year but may struggle to meet the cost of operating the facility after 2019 if central government funding is not forthcoming.

These were among the revelations made at the Council’s Assurance, Audit and Risk Committee meeting this week when the local authority’s Lead Finance Officer, Alfie Dallas, said officers were continuing their “significant efforts to secure funding for the London route and that discussions are ongoing with the Department for Transport in London and relevant senior civil servants with a view to the London Public Service Obligation (PSO) being tendered later this year”.

He explained: “These discussions will also explore medium term funding options for CoDA beyond 2021.

“On the basis of these discussions to date Council remains hopeful that funding will be released and that it, along with Council’s current subsidy, will be sufficient to fund the airport at its current level of operation until 31 March 31, 2021.

“In the event that these funds are not secured, Council’s current subsidy will be sufficient to meet the cost of operations at a reduced level for a minimum period of six months after May 2019, where the viability of the airport over the short and medium term will be considered and appropriate actions taken.”

The situation regarding the airport’s finances was outlined after it was revealed that the Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) had completed its annual audit of the Council’s financial statements and provided a non-qualified audit opinion.

The Audit Office confirmed no adjustments had been required to the “significantly positive outturn report that was presented to Members back in June which highlighted a £3.612m surplus for the year ending March 31, 2018.

Chairman of the Committee Colr. Kieran McGuire said the successful completion of the report with no financial adjustments was very positive news and was reflective of the prudent financial management and improved efficiency processes carried out by officers.

He said: “I welcome the fact that this process has been successfully completed with only a small amount of management review to take place.

“While the issue around funding of the CoDA London route was raised as a significant risk, members are pleased that officers will continue with their efforts to continue with their discussions to secure funding for the route.”