The Derry to Dublin route from City of Derry airport has been re-instated, with flights due to start again in April 2016.
The twice-daily flights will be operated by the Isle of Man based company, CityWing, who will also provide flights to the Isle of Man twice a week.
The flights come as the City of Derry airport application to the Department for Transport under the Regional Air Connectivity Fund to support the new service from Derry to Dublin has been successful, following this week’s autumn spending review at Westminster.
The flight was originally operated by Aer Arran, who provided a daily service. However they cancelled their provision in July 2011 because they said it was no longer commercially viable without Irish government subsidies.
Speaking about the new service, Clive Coleman, Contracts Director for Regional & City Airports at CoDA stated, “This is very welcome news for the airport. CoDA views this scheme as a significant opportunity to secure new airline capacity on a strategically important route from our airport. We are delighted that our application has been successful for a double daily service to Dublin.
“The benefits of this new Dublin service, through enhanced inter-regional and international connectivity, to the local economy and travelling public are significant. Furthermore, they are aligned with the UK Government’s objectives of encouraging the growth of regional airports by making better use of their infrastructure, reducing the need for long-distance travel to and from airports, providing air passengers with greater choice and finally attracting new or more frequent international connections to attract new business activity to support the growth of a more balanced regional economy.
“This is fantastic news for the entire North West Region as this new double daily service to Dublin will allow CoDA to develop as part of a hub, providing economic and social opportunities for the North West, with improved accessibility to markets, increased investment and consequent employment growth for the North West.”
Sinn Fein MLA for Foyle, Raymond McCartney, said the news was a “welcome development”.
“This is a welcome development for Derry and the North West economy. Sinn Féin has long maintained that connectivity between Derry and the major centres of population including Dublin is crucial if we are to achieve our full potential for economic development.
“As part of our lobbying for infrastructural development a Sinn Féin delegation led by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MLA and Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Elisha McCallion met recently with City of Derry Airport (CODA) management to discuss additional routes including reinstating a Derry/Dublin service.”
Commenting on the news Sinead McLaughlin, chief executive of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, said, “It is great news that we will again have a direct flight connection between Derry and Dublin. It is particularly positive that there are to be two flights a day between the two cities. For businesses here it is essential that they have good transport links to the local capital cities of Dublin, London and Belfast. While more work still has to be done on our road links with Belfast and Dublin, a reliable and frequent flight connection with Dublin is a very important step forward for our members. We hope the new route will be followed by others and help to attract more investment to our city.”
Visit Derry’s General Manager, Odhran Dunne, also welcomed the news.
“Visit Derry, as the city’s official tourism organisation, recognises the importance of air connectivity to grow the tourism economy of the North West region. In global tourism terms air route development is vital if we are to enhance our reputation as one of the top leisure and business tourism destinations to visit on the island.
“The establishment of this double daily Dublin-Derry air route service will ensure stronger connectivity with the Greater Dublin catchment area and our international markets. The growth of inbound visitor numbers to the North West is supported by increasing direct air connectivity to the region.
“By continuing to invest in and develop our infrastructure the destination will create greater opportunities to use the unique assets of our people and the place to deliver a sustainable all year round tourism economy.”
The Regional Air Connectivity Fund was announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 2014 Budget Statement as a fund to support the creation of new routes from small UK Regional Airports with annual passenger numbers of less than 3 million.