Ryanair to axe Derry to London flight route

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City of Derry airport have announced that Ryanair is to axes it's Derry to London flight route from next year. 

The service from Londonderry to Stansted will operate 5 times per week before coming to a close in March 2017, while the budget airline will also end it's services to Faro, Portugal in the Spring.

Other changes will see flights from the regional airport to Liverpool cut down to two per week, while five weekly flights to Glasgow International will be maintained.

CEO of Derry City and Strabane District Council, John Kelpie described the news as "extremely disappointing".

However, he believes the route can be saved if the council's application for a Public Service Obligation (PSO) proves successful. 

"We are currently involved in discussions with the Department for Transport about this and remain confident that we meet the criteria.

"The Public Service Obligation, if successful, will allow us retain that important link with London and provide a route that will offer timings that are conveniently scheduled for a full working day at either destination.”

A regional body can apply for funding through a PSO to maintain air links to London, if there is a risk that the regional connection may be otherwise lost.

Management say the application is in the "advanced stages" with the process to be completed early next year, if successful they anticipate it will include a twice daily flight to a London airport from April 2017.

Derry City and Strabane District Council currently subsidise the airport by £2.145 million per year.

City of Derry Airport chairman, Roy Devine said he considers the funding to double as an investment in the region, adding the airport generates "almost £16 million" for the local economy. 

Mr Devine added that both the airport and council have been involved in on-going discussions with the Northern Ireland Executive, he said:

"We have been in discussions with the Executive office, and with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in particular.

"We found him very receptive to the issues faced by the airport and we are hopeful in the coming days that we will see the announcement of a package of measures that will help us in our route development and help us with some upcoming capital expenditure."

Despite the cut to services, management at the airport have stressed that they do not anticipate any staff redundancies at the airport. 

However, trade union Unite says it's members at the airport are "extremely disappointed" at the news, adding that it has "cast a shadow" over it's future.

Spokesperson, Gareth Scott, said:

"Workers have been left concerned for their futures. The wider northwest is concerned what this will mean for hopes to secure the economic development vital to this region."

“For some time now, our union has voiced disquiet over the poor performance of RCAM (Regional & City Airports Management) ltd who are engaged to operate and promote the airport.

“Unite is fully supportive of efforts by Derry City and Strabane District Council and the City of Derry Airport to secure a £4.5m funding for infrastructural investment as well as a £2.5m application for a route development fund. In light of this announcement, there is now an urgency that this funding be earmarked by the Northern Ireland Executive."

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