There were celebrations at City of Derry Airport this week as the team there and Scottish airline Logan Air marked 40 years since the inaugural commercial flight from the airport to Glasgow in April 2, 1979.
Loganair’s Managing Director, Jonathan Hinkles and Commercial Director Kay Ryan commemorated the occasion by once again flying the route on the original, 19 seater, Twin Otter aircraft used for the flight four decades ago.
Festivities and Scottish-themed entertainment greeted them as they touched down in Derry, in honour of the airline’s Scottish heritage and the historic Glasgow route.
Mr Hinkles presented Councillor John Boyle, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, with a commemorative plaque to mark the milestone.
Mr Hinkles told the Journal the event “reinvigorated” the partnership between Loganair and the airport, “which stretches back to that first day in 1979.”
He added how the Derry to Glasgow route is one which has been “served continuously” at the airport for 40 years, first by Loganair, then by Ryanair and later again by Loganair.
“Between the two of us we’ve done a consistent job of serving that market for all of the 40 years the airport has been opened and it’s something were looking forward to building, of course with the Stansted service and the route beginning on May 24 to Manchester.”
Mr Hinkles told how Loganair are keen to develop routes from CODA.
He said: “The airport is very keen to see a link re-established, in some shape or form, with one of the Midlands airports and that’s something we’re actively talking about. There are also a number of other small possibilities. There were flights at weekends for many years from Derry to Jersey. That’s somewhere we fly to from a number of other places on Loganair’s route network - is that something that would work here next year? That’s all the sort of thing we’re looking at in order to build on where we are.”
Mr Hinkles confirmed that Loganair is also participating in the tender for the Derry to Stansted route and is “looking forward to competing to remain an essential part of that key cornerstone of Derry airport’s whole existence.”
Charlene Shongo, Airport Manager added: “We are so proud to have Loganair, who have been such an important and symbolic part of the history of our airport, back at the heart of our modern commercial operations.”
She continued: “The new Manchester service is fantastic news for the airport and for the North West as it provides vital connectivity to one of the main hubs in the UK and creates an opportunity for onward connectivity to international destinations”.
Mayor John Boyle said he was “delighted” to have the opportunity to celebrate the long- standing relationship between Loganair and City of Derry Airport.”
He added “In 2019 they remain a key partner for the airport, offering frequent and reliable connectivity to London, Glasgow and soon Manchester for local and visiting passengers. I would like to thank Jonathan Hinkles and Kay Ryan for their continued commitment to serving our region and their airline’s pivotal role in the 40- year history of our airport.”
Mr Hinkles pointed out how it was “fascinating” to see how the Derry to Glasgow in 1979 cost £20, the equivalent to 98.50 today. Fares today start at 39.99, which he quipped is “still a bargain compared to 1979.”