Flights from City of Derry to London given more funding

City of Derry Airport
Image caption The City of Derry to Stansted flight is the first public service obligation (PSO) air route in Northern Ireland.

The UK government will continue to provide funding for a flight between City of Derry Airport and London.

The public service obligation (PSO) air route, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, has been in place since 2017.

It had been due to expire in May.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has now confirmed the government will continue to subsidise the route until 2021.

"The government is committed to this route because it strengthens the union, protects choice and boosts trade and travel opportunities," he told the House of Commons.

The Department for Transport provides funding for PSO routes if the service is "vital for the economic and social development of the region".

'Economic growth'

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley said the announcement was hugely welcome.

She said the service was vital for Northern Ireland's economic growth.

"Connectivity to Derry-Londonderry helps boost the huge potential on offer, including tourism and global business opportunities," she said.

Image copyright BMI Regional
Image caption Flybmi operates the flights using Embraer ERJ145 jets

Flybmi - formerly known as bmi regional - operates two return flights each day, except Saturday, when there is one each way flight.

The funding announcement has also been welcomed in Northern Ireland's north west.

There had been fears for the future of the airport in Londonderry.

Mayor of Derry and Strabane John Boyle said the airport was "an important regional gateway that is an essential part of the future development of the north west city region."

"We are delighted to retain this important air link with London and continue a route that offers timings that are conveniently scheduled for a full working day at either destination, and offers connectivity with adequate capacity and competitive fares," he said.

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