Belfast Telegraph

City of Derry Airport missing out on £7m over deadlock

By Donna Deeney

City of Derry Airport is missing out on a £7m funding package because there is no government at Stormont, it has emerged.

Last September a bailout of £2.5m towards route development and £4.5m for capital investment was secured from the Executive, but the money was never released.

The permanent secretary at the Department for the Economy said that critical air route development funding would not be made available to the airport despite the Executive commitment.

SDLP party leader Colum Eastwood has said that political stalemate cannot be allowed to threaten the long term viability of the airport.

Mr Eastwood said: "The Executive made a specific commitment to ensure the viability of the City of Derry Airport as a key regional transport infrastructure centre.

"That commitment cannot be reneged on now. Political instability cannot lead to economic instability in the north west.

"It beggars belief that air route development funding which was allocated for the last year has been sent back to the Department of Finance and will not now be reallocated to save a regional airport. This bean counting mentality can't continue.

"I have written to the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Finance asking that this resource be released immediately. This matter must be resolved."

The airport is under ownership of Derry and Strabane Council. A spokeswoman said details of the "current financial provision at the airport" were highlighted to members at a meeting, including details of the "council's agreed commitment to underwrite operational costs at the airport until the end of March 2019".

"Clarification was also given at the meeting in relation to £7m central government funding and the fact that these monies will be for development purposes such as route development and not operational running costs."

Belfast Telegraph

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