A new flight route between Derry and Manchester - with connecting flights across the world - is expected to be signed off within weeks, it has emerged.
Representatives from Flybmi and City of Derry Airport said today that the route is due to be formally concluded by mid-February.
An extension of the two-year, subsidised flybmi London Stansted - Derry route is expected to be announced at the same time.
The Public Service Obligation (PSO) route between Derry and Stansted was signed off by the UK Department of Transport back in February 2017, with £3.8m allocated to fund it up until the end of March 2019. Flybmi began operating the new route in May 2017.
Following talks between the Department and Flybmi however, it has now been agreed that this is to be extended.
The new agreement will also include a key clause meaning that the plane used by Flybmi on this PSO Stansted route will no longer have to be grounded in Derry when not in use. Instead, the same plane can now also be used for a commercial, non-subsidised Manchester route.
The long sought after new route from City of Derry Airport will also mean that, as a result of Flybmi partnerships with international airlines, people can fly from Derry to destinations across the world and visa versa.
Flybmi Director of Marketing and Customer, Anthony Price, told the ‘Journal’ today he hoped the first flights on the new Derry to Manchester route would commence by the Spring of this year.
He was speaking at Walled City Brewery restaurant in Ebrington during a visit to Derry on Tuesday with Head of Flybmi Marketing Frank Mertens to meet with representatives from City of Derry Airport.
Mr Price said that a Spring launch of the Manchester route would allow for the release of tickets and the roll out of the already-prepared marketing plan in advance.
“We are obviously keen to get out there and start promoting the new route,” he said. “We are just waiting for the green light from the Department of Transport and there we go, we have a new destination for City of Derry Airport.”
Clive Coleman, Contracts Director with CoDA said the new Manchester route opened Derry up to the world because of flybmi’s business partnerships with major global airlines, which means passengers will be able to travel to and from Derry and many destinations across the world through a single booking.