Belfast Telegraph

Flybmi: 'Number of airlines' interested in City of Derry airport London route

City of Derry Airport.
City of Derry Airport.

A number of airlines are interested in taking over City of Derry Airport's London route following the collapse of flybmi.

The airport's contract boss Clive Coleman has said they are currently in discussions with a number of interested parties in an attempt to find a quick solution.

Flybmi announced on Saturday that the company was going into administration with immediate effect, leaving some customers stranded and out of pocket. It operated 14 flights to London and the airline's collapse leaves it with three destinations from the airport, although that figure should increase in the summer months.

The announcement came just days after Transport Secretary Chris Grayling promised to continue funding direct flights between Londonderry and London until May 2021.

The loss of the service could put the future of the airport at stake, with City of Derry relying on heavy government subsidies in recent years.

City of Derry Airport is owned by Derry City and Strabane District Council and run by Regional and City Airports.

Contracts Director at Regional and City Airports Clive Coleman said negotiations had begun with a number of airlines.

"The Department of Transport have been working very hard, there's provisions in the rules to allow an emergency appointment to be made," he told BBC Radio Ulster.

"The critical factor is getting a new airline in to operate that route very quickly. We've been approached since BMI announced their administration by a number of airlines and we're carrying out an approach to evaluate those airlines

"It's public money and we've got to be very sure that we get somebody that's a sustainable product from a sustainable airline going forward."

Mr Coleman said it was vital to ensure a new service was in place as soon as possible.

"The challenge that a lot of regions have across Europe is that small airlines are just disappearing for a whole host of economic reasons," he said.

"There aren't that many airlines, there's four or five regional airlines left in the UK and we are talking to them all, we're talking to some other people as well, but it is challenging.

"We're hoping to get that service up and running as quickly as we can. It's absolutely crucial we get that in place quickly for the connectivity to the north west.

"We're moving quickly and giving preference to airlines who can do it quickly."

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