City of Derry Airport: No profit for the next 'five years'
City of Derry Airport will not generate a profit for the next five years, according to the company's chairman.
Roy Devine told a council meeting on Tuesday that the airport will not break even until 2021/22.
It is currently running at a £2.145m loss per year, paid for by Derry City and Strabane District Council ratepayers.
While this subsidy has reduced by £1m since 2010, a further £1.3m is owed in charges on historic capital loans.
Mr Devine said that they were in discussions with other airlines to try to attract new routes to the airport, following a number of recent losses.
They have included routes from Derry to Birmingham and Alicante, while a proposed Derry-Dublin Citywings flight was scrapped last month following the Brexit vote.
Mr Devine told the meeting that an "over-supply" of airline routes flying to and from Belfast, an increase in business rates incurred by the airport and cash-strapped customers in the region were all pressing challenges.
"I do acknowledge things are challenging at the moment but we do believe there are better days ahead and we would ask council to stay with us," he added.
"I think the airport is vital to the infrastructure of the north west. I think the city would be poorer without having it."
Mr Devine added that extra costs outlined in a new five year business plan related to money needed to cover staff wages, and cover the recent loss of the Birmingham route.
However, Independent councillor Paul Gallagher said the airport now looked like "a vanity project for this area", the "burden" of which is being endured by ratepayers.
"As a business plan, I would say this concedes more than it gives. It concedes that we need to pay airlines to attract routes and that there is an inability to attract funding and attract and maintain new routes," Mr Gallagher said.
"CODA (City of Derry Airport) cannot keep coming back to this area and just looking for subvention, subvention, subvention."
Those comments were dismissed by SDLP councillor, John Boyle.
"We need connectivity; we have a very poor roads network here. For anyone to say we should give up and wave the white flag, to my mind would be ridiculous," he said.
"We have a responsibility to ratepayers to keep the airport running as well. There are many, many large businesses who depend upon it."