Belfast Telegraph

Flybmi: Derry council in urgent talks to find a new carrier for London route

City of Derry Airport
City of Derry Airport
Brian McGrath
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

Urgent talks are expected to continue today to reopen the route between City of Derry Airport and London Stansted.

Passengers were stunned by flybmi's shock announcement on Saturday that the airline was going into administration.

The carrier said rising fuel and carbon costs and the uncertainty of Brexit had made its challenges "insurmountable".

Derry City and Strabane District Council, which owns City of Derry Airport, has promised to take action to put a new operator in place "as soon as possible".

The council's chief executive and senior officers, officials from the City of Derry Airport board and the Department for Transport are involved in talks to secure a replacement.

The closure comes just days after Transport Secretary Chris Grayling promised to continue funding direct flights between Derry and London until May 2021.

East Londonderry DUP MP Gregory Campbell raised the matter with Mr Grayling on Saturday.

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"The Transport Secretary indicated that he is hopeful that a new operator will agree to take on the route," he said.

"There needs to be as seamless a transition as possible from flybmi to the new operator in order that the travelling public suffer as little as possible."

Brian McGrath, president of the city's Chamber of Commerce, said the loss was "terribly disappointing" after the new funding guarantee from Mr Grayling.

"The Derry to Stansted link is an incredibly important one for connecting those who live here in the north west to London," he said.

"The loss of this will also be very damaging to businesses in the region who rely on this flight.

"We understand that talks are ongoing to find a replacement airline and we hope that this is found, so that the Derry-Stansted link can be restored as soon as possible."

Sinn Fein councillor Sandra Duffy said the disruption was of "huge concern" and hit out at the DUP and British Government for their "reckless Brexit agenda".

She also raised concerns that a new route from City of Derry Airport to Manchester that was due to be run by flybmi would now be in jeopardy.

The Alliance Party infrastructure spokeswoman Kellie Armstrong MLA said the collapse was a "warning sign over the ambiguity surrounding Brexit".

Belfast Telegraph