A UK airport is facing concerns about it’s future as passenger numbers drop.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority, the number of travellers setting foot in City of Derry airport has dropped by over half.
Figures for 2022 show that only 163,000 people passed through the airport, which is markedly less than over the last decade.
And in 2023, passenger numbers are down every month since May so far.
This includes June, July and August which are traditionally, peak times for air travel.
In 2013, just shy of 390,000 passengers passed through the airport in Northern Ireland.
But the last time passenger numbers exceeded 300,000 was in 2014.
Only 204,000 people flew in 2019. That was the year before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw low passenger numbers across all airports.
City of Derry Airport is owned by Derry City and Strabane District Council (DCSDC) and costs ratepayers £3.45m to help with operational costs, which is five per cent of the council’s entire annual budget.
The airport operates twice daily return flights to Heathrow and also has flights to Manchester, Glasgow and up until recently Liverpool.
Loganair’s Liverpool route stopped at the end of October though it will continue to operate flights on selected dates in December and January.
Concerns over the funding for the airport were raised during this month’s meeting of DCSDC’s Governance and Strategic Planning Committee.
Members heard that the airport board and the council are to write joint letters to the British and Irish governments and Stormont outlining their concerns.
The Sun understands that councillors will attempt to lobby ministers in London, Dublin and civil servants in Belfast for yet more financial support.
A council spokesperson said it and airport officials had been engaging with the UK and Irish Governments to secure the funding needed for the continued sustainability and growth of the airport.
In 2021, the council submitted a business case to Stormont for a funding package for up to six years, but that business case has still not been approved.
The airport’s managing director, Steve Frazer, said he fully expected that their business case would be addressed when ministers return to Stormont.
Mr Frazer said: “There has been positive engagement between the airport, elected representatives and government departments.
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“There has been similar engagement with officials in Dublin to explore what could be done to recognise the contribution made across the wider northwest region.”
The Republic of Ireland’s Department of Transport confirmed that City of Derry Airport had called for financial support from the Irish government, reports the BBC.