Councillors warn funding model for City of Derry Airport ‘unsustainable’
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The issue was raised during discussion of an officer’s report at a meeting of the Council’s assurance, audit and risk committee on Monday, November 20.
The report stated that the Council had ‘prepared a business case for obtaining further government funding assistance for operational costs’, which was submitted in April 2021.
It also stated that the tender process for provision of the Public Service Obligation (PSO) route to London, which was ‘funded until March 31, 2023 and crucial to the sustainability of the airport’, cannot be finalised until late this year.
It warned that, without sufficient confirmed funding, there is a risk to the ‘future financial viability’ of the airport.
Last March the UK Department for Transport and the Department for the Economy provided £1.1 million to maintain the Londonderry to London PSO route until March 31, 2024.
At Monday’s meeting Faughan Sinn Féin District councillor Sean Fleming said the report showed that the current model for the airport was ‘unsustainable’.
“It serves as another reason, as if we needed more, for us to get The Executive back up and running,” he said. “Because these are concerns that we need the Executive to deal with. The airport is a key piece of infrastructure for the North West, and infrastructure is one of its priorities. The airport is a critical part of addressing those shortcomings.”
Foyleside People Before Profit District councillor Shaun Harkin, who chaired Monday’s meeting, said funding for the airport is a ‘massive one’ for the council.
Cllr. Harkin continued: “The report can’t take a final position, because there’s still a question mark as to whether or not there will be government funding going forward.
“Our ratepayers are under huge financial pressures, and this is really a burden that should be lifted off the Council and put onto broader shoulders.
“There’s a large number of users from Donegal, and the Irish government have said they’re open to being involved in funding the airport. I think we need to look at all possible avenues for funding, but Stormont and Westminster have a huge role to play and have been absent.
"Hopefully there will be a better funding arrangement for the Council."