The importance of a link between London and Londonderry has been highlighted today for the benefits to business and tourism as the new scheduled service between Stansted and City of Derry Airport (CoDA) began.
Operated by bmi regional, the inaugural flight left from CoDA on Tuesday morning, marking the start of a regular twice daily service, with a once a day schedule on Saturday.
Welcomed on board the first flight, the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Hilary McClintock said she was delighted to see the London link restored following the departure by Ryanair from CoDA last year.
“Maintaining frequent, convenient and competitively priced air services to and from London is vitally important to the Council and the Airport and we believe that this route is vital for the future development of our regional economy and the social development of our region.
“I would like to extend my best wishes to bmi regional and wish them every success for this route.”
Roy Devine, Chairman of CoDA Operations said: “We are absolutely delighted to welcome bmi regional to City of Derry Airport – this is a very welcome boost for both the Airport and the wider North West region.
“A direct air link with a London airport is imperative for this region - and its business community”.
He said route was already proving popular with business and leisure travellers throughout the North West with bmi regional indicating strong sales to date.
Jochen Schnadt, chief commercial officer of bmi regional said: “The launch of this important new route, bmi regional’s first to Northern Ireland, connects business and leisure travellers from the capital and East Anglia to the North West region of Ireland.
“Given Derry’s recent and sustained period of economic growth, significant investment in new jobs and the various future growth projects, we are positive that the enhanced double-daily connectivity bmi regional’s new service offers will generate additional activity in the market.
“It has become one of our fastest selling route launches and we are very pleased with customer acceptance of our latest service.”
Welcoming the news from a tourism perspective, Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons said the service was “good news for tourism to Northern Ireland, and the North West in particular, for 2017. We look forward to working with BMI Regional, to maximise the promotion of this new service from London.
“As an island, the importance of convenient, direct, non-stop flights cannot be overstated – they are absolutely critical to achieving growth in inbound tourism.
“Tourism Ireland is committed to working with BMI Regional and all our airline partners, through co-operative marketing, to drive demand for flights to Northern Ireland.”