Ryanair has sparked alarm and calls for govenment assistance with the news that it is to end its service between City of Derry London Stansted in March next year.
Although Derry City and Strabane District Council’s chief executive John Kelpie said he remained confident an alternative London route would be found, the airport described the news as “extremely disappointing”.
Currently running at a loss, airport chairman Roy Devine said last week it was not expected to break even until 2021/22 leaving ratepayers to fund the shortfall in the meatime.
Ryanair announced in August it was to reduce the number of London flights ondon route and has confirmed that summer flights to Faro in Portugal are also being dropped, but the potential loss of the link to the capital was highlighted by the the city’s Chamber of Commerce as a major blow to business.
“The Chamber remains steadfast in its support of the City of Derry Airport,” said CEO Sinead McLaughlin.
“It is widely recognised that investors require four elements when considering an investment in any regional economy.
“Those requirements are good road connections, an airport with appropriate destinations, a well skilled and educated labour market and a full sized university.”
Ms McLaughlin said the Chamber was also suppportive of any move to have the service designated a public service obligation (PSO) route by the Department for Transport (DfT) and supported financially by it.
“We wish CoDA and the Council success in their efforts in the process of securing a replacement airline to open a new Derry to London route, as this is of the utmost importance to our economy.”
Mr Kelpie said: “We believe our peripheral location where connectivity to London is vital for the development of our regional economy and the social development of our region, will put us in a strong position to secure a PSO,” said Mr Kelpie.
“We are committed to continuing to work pro-actively over the coming weeks and months to safeguard the airport’s future and put in place a strategy that will ensure the airport continues to provide air connectivity for business and tourism, and remains an important regional gateway and the airport of choice for the North West.”