£7m ‘ensures airport remains key gateway to North-West’

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A £7 million investment package confirmed this week will not only allow City of Derry Airport to survive but to flourish.

That was the message from the Executive as it committed up to £2.5 million in route development support and a further £4.5 million capital investment in partnership with Derry and Strabane District Council aimed at creating high-value jobs and training opportunities.

First Minister Arlene Foster said: “This £7 million package ensures the airport remains a key gateway to the North West for business and leisure travel. The council also has plans for further development which would bring employment opportunities to the area and we want to act as a catalyst for it to succeed.

“This announcement is part of our plan to help deliver economic prosperity in every part of Northern Ireland. Indeed, the plans to invest in capital works will be a welcome boost to the construction sector in the North-West as well.

“Our package of support will ultimately allow the airport to plan for the future and remain a key part of the transport infrastructure for Northern Ireland.”

The funding comes after last week’s announcement by Ryanair that it is to axe its Londonderry to Stansted route next March. It is also pulling its Faro flights in 2017 and reducing the Liverpool service from five times to twice a week.

In response, airport bosses said they were seeking an alternative provider for the London link.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: “With Ryanair’s withdrawal, having another airline in place is vital for our economic development and I am pleased discussions are at an advanced stage. I am confident this financial backing will enable the airport to not only function but flourish and serve all the people of the North-West and further afield.”

Unions and elected representatives have been calling for investment at the airport.

Welcoming the announcement, Foyle DUP MLA Gary Middleton said: “This money will go some way to securing jobs and providing further employment for the area, which will be a significant boost to the local economy.”