Business

Publicly funded Derry to London flights switch to Heathrow from May

The City of Derry Airport is located at Eglinton.
The City of Derry Airport is located at Eglinton. The City of Derry Airport is located at Eglinton.

GOVERNMENT subsidised flights between Derry and London will switch from Stansted Airport to Heathrow from next month.

Scottish airline Loganair, which has operated the public service obligation (PSO) route since 2019, was awarded an extended contract last month.

But the carrier is no longer taking bookings for flights from Derry to London Stansted Airport from May 5.

Loganair is instead due to commence flights from the Eglinton airport to Heathrow’s Terminal 2 the following day.

The PSO route connecting Derry with London has been in operation since 2017. Loganair took over the service in February 2019 following the collapse of Flybmi.

In that time, the Scottish airline has alternated the Derry PSO flights between Southend and Stanstead.

Derry City and Strabane District Council, which owns City of Derry Airport, was responsible for running the tender process for the latest PSO contract.

The contract allows airlines to use any one of six airports within the proximity of London.

Although advertised as a 24-month arrangement, just one year of public funding was announced by the Department for Transport (DfT) in London last month.

DfT and Stormont’s Department for the Economy (DfE) will each contribute £1.1 million to maintain daily flights until March 31 2024.

The £1.1m funding from DfE is a ringfenced allocation from the Northern Ireland Office, specifically for the Derry PSO, meaning it cannot be used in any other DfE policy area.

The opportunity to switch the service to Heathrow follows the collapse of Flybe.

The failed regional carrier had acquired 86 weekly slots from British Airways during April 2021.

Loganair is among the airlines to subsequently snap up the slots made available by the latest failure of Flybe.