The Irish Government should fund City of Derry Airport and re-subsidise a flight from Dublin to the North West.
That’s according to Sinn Féin Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn who has called for the reintroduction of public service obligation (PSO) support for the Derry to Dublin route, which was in place between 2001 to 2011.
The Buncrana-based senator, speaking in the Seanad last week, said the Irish Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, should sit down with CoDA and discuss how he might help the Derry air hub.
He said investing in the airport would boost visitor numbers and build on the success of the Causeway Coastal Route and Wild Atlantic Way.
“The way we can join all that together to ensure they complement each other is by investing in the City of Derry Airport,” said Senator Mac Lochlainn.
“One might ask why I would say that as a Donegal man but 40 per cent of the passengers who use the City of Derry Airport are from Donegal - 150,000 every year.
“That airport is the centre of the economic and tourism future of the north west, that region comprising half a million people, but it is not getting one cent of investment,” he continued.
Senator Mac Lochlainn referred to the Irish government’s long-standing support for a Derry to Dublin flight, which ended in 2011, calling for this to be reinstated.
“It used to get investment from the Irish Government but it does not now. I appreciate that the Minister has a plan for the airports and there is a concern in his Department about public service obligations, PSOs, but I ask that he meet members of the management of CoDA,” he said.
“I understand the board of the airport will by now have made a request to meet him. I believe he will be very impressed with them and their vision. He will know that there will be a PSO route linking Derry to London and possibly to other British cities.
“It would be important to also get a link to Dublin. It is not only a commuter connection.
“When one flies into Ireland from North American or Europe it is more than likely that one will land at Dublin Airport.
“If we are serious about attracting tourists to the north west to develop its economy and have balanced regional developments then we need a connecting flight between Derry and Dublin.
“The only way to do so is through some form of contribution, whatever that might be, or partnership with the Irish Government. I ask that the Minister meets airport management from the City of Derry Airport and listens to their case because there may be something that can be done to assist the airport further.”