The City of Derry airport is now a colossal waste of money

City of Derry airport, which has very low passenger numbers
City of Derry airport, which has very low passenger numbers

I am calling for City of Derry airport to close. It is a colossal waste of money — both taxpayers and ratepayers.

Figures recently published by the CAA show that passenger numbers have slumped by 100,000 in the past year — that means the airport has lost over a third of its business in the past year alone.

The taxpayer and ratepayer has spent over £30m building and supporting the airport over the past 30 years. It is time for the council to face the reality that the airport is a failure.

We need to see funding focused on roads — both completing the dualling of the A26 to Coleraine and pressing on with the huge task of upgrading the A6.

This will greatly enhance journey times to Belfast International Airport, where passenger numbers are up again by over 10% and it is approaching six million passengers per year. There are single routes from Aldergrove that carry more passengers than go through City of Derry on all routes.

City of Derry airport may point to a few new routes coming on line but in about four/five years the journey time from Londonderry to Belfast International will be cut dramatically and people will gravitate towards the airport that offers much greater choice.

I urge people to recognise that there are only two significant airports in Ireland – Dublin and Belfast.

Dublin has expanded hugely and is the third biggest airport in the British Isles.

It is the major international airport for the entire island and Belfast is the main airport for Northern Ireland and the NW of the Republic. Healthy competition between these two airports is a good thing but trying to sustain other airports — particularly as the road infrastructure improves – is simply an unwise use of ratepayers and taxpayers money.

Belfast City airport also saw passenger numbers fall by 100,000 down to 2.5 million passengers per year.

The city council would be better using the rates of people in the North West to support better rail links to the international and to Dublin Airport rather than throwing good money after bad. And I am sure all councillors in Coleraine would be supportive of better rail links too.

David Harding, Conservative councillor, Coleraine