The Northern Ireland Executive is preparing a multi million pound package to transform City of Derry Airport amid major concerns that Ryanair may scrap a number of popular services, the “Journal” can reveal.
The shock news comes in the wake of significant worries relating to the long term sustainability of the Eglinton facility and, indeed, follows a recent decision by Ryanair to cut the frequency of its daily service to London-Stansted.
The ‘Journal’ also understands that Ryanair is set to end the London service altogether, while the popular summer service from Derry to Faro (Portugal) is also under threat.
Ryanair, which has been operating the Derry-London service since 1999, recently said it was pivoting growth away from British airports and focusing more on growth at its EU airports over the next two years.
One industry insider believes the move is a knock-on from the recent Brexit vote.
The source added: “In addition, City of Derry Airport also suffers from the impact of Air Passenger Duty (APD). Ireland used to have its equivalent - the air travel tax- but under pressure from airlines, in particular Ryanair, the Irish Government abandoned this. The British Government, however, has shown no signs of similarly abandoning APD.”
Meanwhile, on a more positive note, the ‘Journal’ can reveal that the Northern Ireland Executive is putting together a multi-million pound package to transform the local airport. Stormont sources have confirmed that deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, has been central to a plan that would see the Executive inject £7m. into City of Derry Airport.
It’s understood that discussions have been ongoing for a number of weeks and are now at an advanced stage.
It is expected that the Executive will provide a £2.5 million route development fund which officials are confident will secure a number of new services to Britain.
A further £4.5 million will be invested in infrastructure at the airport in a move which is aimed at creating high-value jobs and training opportunities at the Eglinton site.
A source said: “Ryanair could cut further flights at any minute so strategic action is needed to secure the future of the facility and enable them to secure additional operators and services.
“Taken together, this package represents a £7 m. investment by the Executive which is a recognition of the need for greater connectivity in the north west.
“It will also help put the airport on a much sounder footing for the future and greatly improve the service on offer with more flights, more jobs and more opportunities.”