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Airport future threatened by failure to form executive claim

SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood has claimed the failure to form an executive is placing the future of City of Derry Airport at risk. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

The failure to form a Stormont Executive is threatening the future of City of Derry Airport, SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood has said.

Mr Eastwood led an SDLP delegation in talks with the permanent secretary of the Department of the Economy to discuss a delay in launching a £7 million funding package for the airport. The money was announced last September by First Minister, Arlene Foster and then deputy first minister, the late Martin McGuinness.

Owned by Derry city and Strabane district council, the airport has been operating at a loss of more than £2 million per year. The £7 million funding package was agreed by the Executive after Ryanair announced it was dropping flights to London and some of its flights to Liverpool.

The package was to be used to invest in route development and capital projects at the airport. However, according to Mr Eastwood, the money has not been released due to the collapse of the power-sharing executive.

“The delay to investment at the airport is just one more casualty of political failure,” the SDLP leader said.

Mr Eastwood said the delegation, which included mlas, Mark H Durkan and John Dallat, was told that if the executive was in place, further route development could be progressed at the airport.

“This is totally unacceptable. City of Derry Airport desperately needs this funding and should not be held back due to the political deadlock,” he said.

The SDLP leader said the failure by former Finance Minister, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir to set a budget had left the airport and other public services at crisis point.

“It's time to get back to work. Our airport, our health service and our schools cannot pay the price for political failure,” Mr Eastwood said.

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