CoDA turned down for Dublin support due to ‘limited Exchequer funding’ but potential PSO route being reviewed
City of Derry Airport was turned down for funding under the Irish government’s regional airports programme for 2021-2025 due to limited Exchequer funding.
That’s according to junior transport minister Jack Chambers who was urged by Sinn Féin T.D. Pádraig Mac Lochlainn to reinstate funding for the facility.
"Some 40 per cent of passengers who use the CoDA are from Donegal. This airport has been held up by the ratepayers of Derry City and Strabane District Council for many years.
"There used to be a direct air route from Derry to Dublin. I ask the Government to step up and pay a fair share of the running costs of this airport, which is very important for our region,” said the Buncrana-based T.D.
Deputy Chamber confirmed the airport did seek funding under Dublin’s regional airports programme.
"CoDA sought to be included under the regional airports programme for the period from 2021 to 2025 and made a submission to a previous public consultation held by my Department in September 2019.
"As the Deputy has referenced, Derry airport asserts that its position is unique on the island of Ireland as it serves a large customer base on both sides of the Border.
"However, as advised to the airport at that time, the primary aim of the regional airports programme is to target funding, which is limited, at the smallest airports so that they can maintain compliance in the areas of safety and security in line with EU rules on state aid.
"Eligible airports facilitate connectivity to the regions, including to the north-west region via Donegal Airport, which is supported under the programme.
"While it is acknowledged that the CoDA has a role in helping to facilitate connectivity to the north-west region, extending the scope and cost of the programme to include the airport has not been an option in the context of the limited Exchequer funding previously available under the programme,” said the Minister of State.
CoDA has been supported in the past and that a potential reopening of the Derry to Dublin Public Service Obligation route is being reviewed, he added.
“The Government did previously provide Exchequer support, on a joint funding basis with the British Government, to the airport in 2005 to facilitate a capital project.
"A public service obligation, PSO, air service between Derry and Dublin was also previously supported. A desk-based review is currently under way,” he stated.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn stressed that CoDA is the home airport for a significant population base in Inishowen and East Donegal.
“While we welcome the support and funding for the airport in west Donegal, the reality of the geography of Donegal is that people in much of north Donegal, east Donegal and the Inishowen Peninsula would use the City of Derry Airport for many of their trips, particularly across to England or Scotland,” he said.
Deputy Chambers said: “A desk-based review is being progressed. It has yet to be concluded and its findings have yet to be brought to us.
"As I said, I will seek to engage with and meet airport representatives. I understand the geography of Donegal and that west Donegal is far apart from the other side, adjacent to Derry. We have to look at this in the overall context of the previous iteration of the regional airports programme.”