Jobs at the loss-making City of Derry Airport are under threat, it was revealed last night.
Airport managers have to save a proposed £600,000 amid increased financial pressure facing local authorities in Northern Ireland. Uncertainty over the funding available to councils contributed to the problem.
Ryanair has announced plans to scale back its services from the airport, although the reduction is temporary, with many routes selling online for spring 2009.
Airport managers yesterday began discussions with employees and union representatives.
Chief executive of Derry City Council Valerie Watts said: “Derry City Council must act now to consolidate services at City of Derry Airport to safeguard future growth and the employment the airport supports. This will be achieved through a savings in operational costs along with a business plan that delivers commercial and passenger growth.”
Although a spokeswoman for the airport confirmed jobs were “under threat”, Cllr Joe Miller who sits on the airport committee said there had been no suggestion of redundancies.
“They are looking at rationalisation of the airport, they are looking at relocating if there is to be any movement there will be a relocation of people. I don’t think the word redundancy has been mentioned, this is a very positive move for the airport,” he said.
A spokesperson for the council said it was a priority to minimise the impact and safeguard as many jobs as possible.
“As we are at an early stage of discussions we are unable to confirm the impact on permanent or agency staff,” he said.
“Derry City Council has placed a freeze on recruitment except where the position is for a statutory post.”
Over the past years the airport has experienced exceptional growth in passengers but its operating deficit has risen from £1.7 million to over £4m.
It is estimated the airport generates approximately £40m for the local economy.