CITY of Derry Airport has welcomed the announcement of a multi-million pound funding package to safeguard its future.
The move comes after weeks of talks between the airport, Derry and Strabane District Council and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness over the airport’s future.
The Northern Irish Executive will award the struggling Eglinton facility up to £7 million in an attempt to alleviate its financial woes, it was announced today.
Ryanair’s recent decision to scrap the airport’s most popular route between Derry and London is thought to have brought forward the announcement.
The airline also decided to reduce its Liverpool route to just two weekly services.
Much of the money from the new package will be used to secure new routes and airline carriers for the airport, it was confirmed in today's announcement.
City of Derry Airport (CoDA) Chariman Roy Devine said the funding package was “great news” for both the airport and the entire region.
“This investment package is evidence of the Government’s confidence and commitment to the airport and the wider North West region," he said.
“The funding package is hugely significant in allowing us to continue with the positive work we are doing in relation to securing new routes and in identifying new carriers, as well as advancing with our plans for developing our infrastructure.”
John Kelpie, Derry City and Strabane District Council Chief Executive, said he was pleased the talks over recent weeks and months had been successful.
“We are delighted that the NI Executive has acknowledged the importance of the City of Derry Airport by providing funding to assist us in developing new routes and services and safeguarding the facility’s future.
“The City of Derry Airport remains a key priority for the Council and is a key driver for the North West economy and this funding package is vital in securing the airport’s future,” he added.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said that investment in the airport was vital to Northern Irish economic development and connectivity.
Mr McGuinness also revealed that a replacement carrier for Ryanair was close to being announced.
“This £7 million package will enable the City of Derry Airport to invest in route development and capital projects which will create high value jobs and training opportunities,” he said.
“I have been actively engaged in discussions with the City of Derry Airport and the local council for a number of weeks.
“With Ryanair’s withdrawal, having another airline in place is vital for our economic development and I am pleased discussions are at an advanced stage. I am confident this financial backing will enable the airport to not only function but flourish and serve all the people of the North-West and further afield.”