The Stormont Executive is poised to step in with a rescue funding package to save the troubled City of Derry Airport.
The loss-making airport’s future was dealt a heavy blow this week with Ryanair’s decision to cut its services to London Stansted and Faro and reduce its flights to Liverpool.
Talks on a rescue package have been ongoing between the airport board, Derry City and Strabane District Council and Stormont’s governing parties, the DUP and Sinn Fein.
Ratepayers in the council area are currently footing the airport’s £2.145 million annual losses.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the “disappointing” Ryanair announcement had threatened the airport’s “future existence”.
But he indicated the Executive was willing to intervene to save it.
“It is incumbent upon us at Executive level to deal with that,” he said.
“There is a duty and responsibility to ensure the connectivity of the people in the north-west is of the highest quality.”
He added: “I am totally confident that we will be able to rescue the situation at City of Derry.”
DUP First Minister Arlene Foster said: “Discussions are ongoing in relation to that airport.
“I think what’s important for us is we have connectivity for all of our people because that not only allows our people to exit Northern Ireland but it’s important for us to bring in people here as well who want to invest and visit.”
From April 2017 Ryanair will only operate five weekly services to Glasgow International and two to Liverpool from City of Derry Airport
Derry City and Strabane District Council is seeking a Public Service Obligation (PSO) commitment from the Government that a direct route will continue to be operated between Derry and London.