Troubled Derry airport lands £7.5m bail out from Stormont
The future of the troubled City of Derry Airport (CoDA) has been secured after the Executive agreed to hand over a multi-million subsidy to the loss-making operation.
Earlier this week the outlook for the airport appeared bleak after Ryanair axed its route to London Stansted and Faro, Portugal and slashed its route to Liverpool by over 50%.
Making the announcement in Londonderry, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said that not only was the airport due to receive a cash injection understood to be £7.5m, further financial help would be available in years to come.
He said: "We are absolutely satisfied at this stage we can make a success of the City of Derry airport.
"The agreement has been reached, it is a multimillion pound project and it is about saving the airport, but not just about that.
"The plans we are pursuing at the moment are greater than getting air links to London, they are bigger than bringing aeroplanes into the airport.
"What we are trying to do is reach the stage where CoDA is sustainable financially but if we have to support the airport with finance from the Executive, I think that is the right thing to do," he added.
"People here in the North West waiting on the new roads which are due to begin this year on the A6 and next year on the A5 are entitled to connectivity with places like London, Dublin and elsewhere and if we have to invest in that, I am not going to apologise to anybody for doing that."
The finer details of this safety net from the Executive will become clearer next week but one possible addition to the existing airport facility could be a maintenance repair operation which would also open up new employment opportunities.
Economic expert Paul Gosling said: "A maintenance repair operation is in the business plan that the airport management took to Council.
"Basically this would be where the airport would have the facility to maintain and repair aircraft. I understand there is an investor looking for a facility within Ireland and City of Derry airport is the most likely destination for that investment."
Foyle MP Mark Durkan said the underwriting from the Executive "is very important". He added: "It should also not be seen as a bail out. It is about moving the airport into a better position whereby it can explore with other airlines additional routes in a much more positive context."