Council ‘committed’ to restoring Stansted route from City of Derry Airport

Urgent talks are ongoing to find another airline to continue the Stansted route from City of Derry Airport following the collapse of flybmi.

Derry City and Strabane District Council said it is “committed” to securing an immediate replacement airline for the route.

British Midland Regional Limited, which had operated 17 regional jet aircraft on routes to 25 European cities, said all flights were cancelled from Saturday.

FlyBMI files for administration
A notice at Bristol Airport informing passengers that flybmi flights have been cancelled (PA)

Difficulties have included increases in fuel and carbon costs, as well as challenges “particularly those created by Brexit”, a statement on the airline’s website said.

Flybmi operated two return flights a day from City of Derry to Stansted from Sunday to Friday, and one return flight on Saturdays.

In a statement on Sunday, the council moved to reassure the public that its chief executive, senior officers from the council, officials from the City of Derry Airport Board and the Department for Transport have been involved in the discussions.

They are seeking to put into place measures to secure a new operator for the route as soon as possible.

City of Derry Airport has advised passengers due to fly with the airline that all flybmi flights are cancelled and to contact their card issuer to seek a refund, while those who have booked through a travel agent or partner airline should check their contract for what options are available.

A council spokesman said it remains committed to securing an immediate replacement airline for the route and will provide an update as soon as possible.

Loganair and Ryanair are currently the only airlines which serve City of Derry Airport.

Last week, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling confirmed the UK Government will continue to provide funding for a flight between City of Derry Airport and London.

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said that he had been in touch with Mr Grayling on Saturday evening over the future of the route.

“Obviously there is concern given that this is the single direct air connection between Londonderry and London,” the Democratic Unionist representative said.

“The Transport Secretary indicated that he is hopeful that a new operator will agree to take on the route.

“There needs to be as seamless a transition as possible from flybmi to the new operator in order that the travelling public suffer as little as possible.”

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

Mr Grayling said the Government will continue to subsidise the route until 2021.

Sinn Fein councillor Sandra Duffy described the loss of the flybmi flight as a “huge concern for the economy in the north-west”.