The Northern Ireland Executive is preparing a multi-million pound package to transform City of Derry Airport amid major concerns that Ryanair may scrap its London route, it has been reported.
The news comes in the wake of a recent decision by Ryanair to cut the frequency of its daily service to London Stansted.
The Derry Journal newspaper said it understands Ryanair is set to end the London service altogether, while the summer service from Londonderry to Faro in Portugal is also under threat.
Ryanair, which has been operating the Londonderry-to-London service since 1999, recently said it was focusing more on growth at its EU airports over the next two years, rather than British ones.
An industry source was quoted by the Derry Journal as suggesting that the move may be linked to the UK’s pending departure from the EU.
They also said the airport “suffers from the impact of Air Passenger Duty (APD)”.
They said: “Ireland used to have its equivalent – the air travel tax – but under pressure from airlines, in particular Ryanair, the Irish Government abandoned this.
“The British Government, however, has shown no signs of similarly abandoning APD.”
Earlier this month Willie Walsh, the boss of British Airways’ parent company IAG, had called on the government to axe APD.
Meanwhile, the Derry Journal said the Northern Ireland Executive is putting together a multi-million pound package for the airport.
This is said to involve around £7m, and negotiations are believed to be at an advanced stage.
It is expected that the Executive will provide a £2.5m route development fund which officials are confident will secure a number of new services to Britain, the newspaper reported.
A further £4.5m will be invested in infrastructure at the airport.
A source was quoted as saying: “It will also help put the airport on a much sounder footing for the future and greatly improve the service on offer with more flights, more jobs and more opportunities.”