City of Derry Airport

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City of Derry Airport
Londonderry/Eglinton Airport[1]
City of Derry Airport.jpg
Airport type Public
Owner Derry City Council
Operator City of Derry Airport Operations Ltd.
Serves Derry, United Kingdom
Location Eglinton, County Londonderry,
Northern Ireland
Elevation AMSL 23 ft / 7 m
Coordinates 55°02′34″N 007°09′43″W / 55.04278°N 7.16194°W / 55.04278; -7.16194Coordinates: 55°02′34″N 007°09′43″W / 55.04278°N 7.16194°W / 55.04278; -7.16194
EGAE is located in Northern Ireland
City of Derry Airport in Northern Ireland
Direction Length Surface
m ft
08/26 1,969 6,460 Asphalt
Statistics (2014)
Passengers 350,257
Passenger change 13-14 Decrease9.02%
Aircraft Movements 5,764
Movements change 13-14 Decrease18.85%
Sources: UK AIP at NATS[1]
Statistics from the UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]

City of Derry Airport (IATA: LDYICAO: EGAE) is an airport located 7 mi (11 km) northeast of Derry, Northern Ireland.[3] It is located on the south bank of Lough Foyle, a short distance from the village of Eglinton and 8 mi (13 km) from the city centre. The location of the airport beside a RSPB bird sanctuary[4] has been a matter of concern for some time following several reported bird strikes, the latest being on 3 August 2009.[5][6]

Passenger numbers in 2014 were 350,257, a 9% decrease compared with 2013.[2]

Eglinton Aerodrome, as it is known locally, has a CAA Ordinary Licence (Number P620) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction as authorised by the licensee (Derry City Council).[7]


City of Derry Airport lies 8 miles outside of Derry and neighbours the village of Eglinton.

1945 to 1989[edit]

The airport has its origins in World War II. In 1941 RAF Eglinton air base was established as the home to No. 133 Squadron RAF which flew Hurricane fighters in defence of the city. In 1942 the base was occupied by the No. 41 Squadron RAF. In 1943 the airfield became a Fleet Air Arm base called RNAS Eglinton HMS Gannet and was home to the No. 1847 Fleet Air Arm Squadron which provided convoy air cover as part of the Second Battle of the Atlantic.

After the war the base remained a military establishment until the 1950s when the Ministry of Defence returned much of the land to the original landowners. The original name of the airport was Londonderry Eglinton Airport and was usually just referred to as "Eglinton". Some limited commercial activities were undertaken at the airfield during the 1960s when Emerald Airways operated a Glasgow service. Emerald built a new terminal building and control tower to support services with the first flight to Glasgow operating on 16 September 1967. During most of the 1970s the only flying at Eglinton was carried out by Eglinton Flying Club which is still based at the airport. In 1978 Londonderry City Council decided to purchase the airfield with a view to improving the transport infrastructure for the north-west of Ireland. The airport has slowly developed since then with private short-haul charters to various destinations within the British Isles, a service which still continues including the recent addition of helicopter pilot training and charter services. Loganair introduced the first scheduled flight between Derry and Glasgow in 1979, a route which was dropped due to rising fuel costs. This route was the only route for ten years until Loganair introduced an additional daily Manchester service in 1989.

1989 to 2006[edit]

A major redevelopment programme was undertaken by the Council from 1989 to 1993 with grant aid from the European Regional Development Fund. £10.5 million was spent upgrading all of the facilities at the airport including runways, taxiways, access roads, navigation equipment and runway lighting, as well as a new purpose-built terminal and fire station. The new terminal was officially opened in March 1994. The name of the airport was officially changed from Londonderry Eglinton to the City of Derry Airport by Derry City Council following nationalist support within the newly renamed council. However, as of May 2014, the Aeronautical Information Publication published by the UK's air navigation service provider, National Air Traffic Services, still shows Londonderry/Eglinton.[1] At that time there were still only two scheduled routes carrying about 40,000 passenger each year. 1995 saw the arrival of Jersey European Airways who attempted to operate a short-lived shuttle link between Derry and Belfast City Airport.

Airport Entrance
Fuel Tanks currently displayed at the airport from the Virgin Atlantic Flyer, the transatlantic hot air balloon, which landed four miles away in 1987

During 1998 and 1999 safety improvements were undertaken at the airport as a matter of priority. As the airport served Northern Ireland and Donegal in the Republic of Ireland, funding was sourced and thereafter provided by the Irish Government in addition to that provided by the British Government and Derry City Council. These improvements meant that larger aircraft could use the airport, thus, Falcon Holidays started holiday charter flights in May 1999, followed in July by Ryanair who operated scheduled flights. The Ryanair service to London Stansted grew substantially and the Loganair routes continued to operate until October 2008 as a British Airways franchise, including a sector to Dublin, initiated as a public service obligation route, subsidised by the Irish Government. Soaring fuel costs seen all British Airways operations to Northern Ireland suspended. British Airways has since returned to Northern Ireland by reintroducing a flight to London Heathrow Airport from George Best Belfast City Airport.

Aer Arann operated services to Manchester and Birmingham for a short time.[8]

2006 to 2011[edit]

In May 2006, the European Commission gave its approval for the British and Irish governments to invest €15 million in the airport. Although this work did not include for the lengthening of the single serviceable runway, it included the expansion of the safety zones at each end which would allow jets to land and take off with full passenger capacities. Operators of Boeing 737 jets were previously limited to 80% capacity as a safety feature due to the short length of the runway. Other works included the expansion of the apron immediately in front of the control tower which would allow for the parking of several aircraft at any one time. As a prelude to the expansion at the airport several families were removed from their homes under a Government Compulsory Purchase scheme before the buildings and outbuildings were levelled.

At the end of 2008, British Airways, operated by Loganair as a franchise agreement, ceased the Glasgow International route which had operated for 30 years, following the loss in July 2008 of their public service obligation route to Dublin. This route is now operated by Aer Arann. Aer Lingus Commuter had previously operated the route until 1994.

Ryanair also discontinued the Bristol route and changed its Derry–East Midlands route to Derry–Birmingham announcing new flights to London Luton and the airport's first scheduled international service to Alicante which commenced in June 2009. The London Luton route was however subsequently terminated on 27 March 2010.

The decrease in operational hours at the airport as a direct consequence of the challenging economic conditions have caused problems for Eglinton Flying Club and the helicopter flight training facility who in turn have threatened to leave the airport if the decisions are not reversed. They have claimed that this would cost the airport some £250,000 in annual revenue while the owners, Derry City Council, have countered that the decrease in operational hours was necessary as part of the implementation of the £600,000 budget reduction plan.

In January 2009 the council appointed Albert Harrison, the former head of Belfast International Airport, as the new manager of the airport. He had been tasked with turning the loss making facility around and has been given just six months to implement savings of £600,000 per annum and increase the number of carriers, destinations and passengers. However more recently, newly appointed City of Derry Airport manager, Damien Tierney has taken control of this cost saving project.[9]

Check-In Desks 1-6
Ryanair aircraft sits on apron at City of Derry Airport

The recently completed runway safety zone extension and apron works has allowed the CAA to lift the capacity restriction on aircraft operating out of the airport. This has increased seat availability and passenger throughput at the airport. It has also enabled Ryanair to establish their first international route from the airport to Alicante. Also announced was a new charter flight to Burgas in Bulgaria to be operated by BH Air.[10] The Burgas flight will not operate for summer 2011 as PAX numbers for 2010 were not as expected.

In April 2009 the council issued tender documents for a multi-million pound expansion of the terminal to improve passenger flow and meet current EU customs and immigration regulations.[11] The arrivals hall has recently been improved and tax free shopping, WHSmith and the Amelia Earhart Business lounge in the departure area are open during operational hours.

In mid-2009 work commenced on dualling the A2 from Maydown to Eglinton and the airport, which now provides a high speed dual carriageway connection to the city. This project was intended to be the first of several schemes including the "A5 dualling Derry to Aughnacloy"[12] planned to commence in 2012 and the "A6 dualling Dungiven to Derry"[13] due to commence in 2013. It is projected that these schemes will greatly increase the catchment area for the airport rendering it a viable alternative to Northern Ireland's two other main airports.[14]

On 9 October 2009, Derry City Council who own and operate the airport began the process which will lead to the privatisation of the facility. Initially a holding company will be set up by the council which will own 100% of the shares, thereafter the council intends to do market research to seek the level of interest in private sector investors. As part of the privatisation plan two subsidiaries will be formed that will operate the airport and manage the estate.[15]

In June 2010 it was announced [16] that the Airport was in the final stages of discussion with the Balfour Beatty Group about a management contract, with the objective of bringing additional commercial experience and resources to the Airport for the economic benefit of the region and to reduce the subvention from the City Council.

The Belfast to Derry single track railway line of Northern Ireland Railways passes close to but not across the tip of the runway at the North Eastern end.[17] Because it is in the Runway End Safety Area, safety systems ensure that no train can pass when aircraft are taking off or landing.[18]

2010 saw the commencement of a new route to Faro with Ryanair, the airport's second scheduled international destination. Routes were also announced to Edinburgh and Manchester with Aer Arann, however due to lower than expected public demand the routes have been suspended until market conditions are more favourable. The Irish Government ceased to subsidise the Derry-Dublin route from July 2011 and it was closed.

The airport is to develop further Ryanair routes from the airport to European cities such as Barcelona, Paris, Frankfurt and Milan. In addition discussions are under way with a third operator about re-establishing flights to Bristol and, possibly, into one of the business hubs in London such as Gatwick or Heathrow.[19]

As of April 2010, it has been reported that the airport has emerged from passenger recession, with passenger numbers released for February of the same year showing an increase over that of the same period for the year before. This increase is reported as 562 passengers and however modest this may appear, it has been further reported that the first flights for Faro began fully booked.[20]

A report by Ilex-URC in September 2010, pointed out that there is intentions to grow and increase the number of scheduled routes out of the airport from 7 as of 2010, to 10 by 2015, and 15 by 2020.[21]

2012 to date[edit]

In 2012 Ryanair had announced the termination of the route to Tenerife due to low demand. In July 2014 Ryanair announced that the opening of a new base at Glasgow International Airport and announced that, along with Dublin Airport, the Ryanair route to Prestwick would change to Glasgow International from October 2014. This means that the route from Derry will now go to the international airport rather than Prestwick.[22]

The airport has also been recently hit by the announcement that the seasonal flight operated by Thomson Airways to Majorca will cease following Summer 2014. Falcon Holidays announced that the flight to Majorca will instead be operated from Belfast International Airport.

In August 2014, passengers were stranded for two hours on board a Ryanair aircraft from Alicante because UK Border Force staff had not arrived at the airport yet. Airport staff provided complimentary food and drinks while the staff made their way from their base in Belfast. Passengers were only allowed to leave the aircraft since the airport had negotiated with the Border Force. Subsequently, the Home Office and City of Derry Airport had apologised to the passengers for the delay and an investigation was launched.[23][24][25][26]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Airlines Destinations
Ryanair Glasgow-International, Liverpool, London-Stansted
Summer seasonal: Alicante, Faro


Departures board at City of Derry Airport
Number of
Number of
1997 56,043 3,121
1998 49,095 2,740
1999 103,504 2,329
2000 162,704 3,261
2001 187,519 4,736
2002 199,146 4,340
2003 205,505 4,728
2004 234,487 4,309
2005 199,357 4,146
2006 341,719 4,748
2007 427,586 5,733
2008 438,996 5,825
2009 345,857 4,185
2010 339,432 3,848
2011 405,697 3,839
2012 398,209 3,326
2013 384,973 3,156
2014 350,257 2,595
City of Derry Airport Passenger Totals 1997–2014 (in hundreds of thousands)
Busiest Routes to and from City Of Derry Airport (2013)
Rank Airport Passengers handled 2012-2013 Change Airlines that serve(d)
1  United Kingdom - London Stansted Airport 130,532 Decrease 2.8% Ryanair
2  United Kingdom - Liverpool Airport 90,755 Decrease 3.2% Ryanair
3  United Kingdom - Glasgow-Prestwick Airport 69,454 Decrease 4.5% Ryanair
4  United Kingdom - Birmingham Airport 52,322 Decrease 5% Ryanair
5  Portugal - Faro Airport 23,695 Increase 17.8% Ryanair (seasonal)
6  Spain - Lanzarote Airport 6,473 Increase new route Thomson Airways (seasonal)
7  Spain - Palma de Mallorca Airport 6,255 Decrease 0.3% Thomson Airways (seasonal)
8  Spain - Alicante Airport 5,456 Decrease 7% Ryanair (seasonal)
Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority [2]

Incidents and accidents[edit]

  • 29 March 2006 - the Irish airline Eirjet issued an apology after a flight it operated from Liverpool John Lennon Airport to City of Derry Airport on behalf of Ryanair landed at the wrong airfield, touching down at Ballykelly Airfield, a former RAF base and more recently an Army base some 10 km (6.2 mi) away from its intended destination. The statement explained that the incident was caused by an "error by the Eirjet pilot who mistakenly believed he was on a visual approach to City of Derry airport".[28] An air accident investigation report in January 2007 reported that the pilot had been unable to obtain the correct set of charts prior to the flight, only obtaining them the day after the incident. The pilot stated that if he had seen the charts, he would have been fully aware of the existence of Ballykelly and would not have landed there. The crew believed the instrument landing aid system at City of Derry was malfunctioning as what they saw of the runway did not match the instrument readings and the presence of an instrument calibrating aircraft close by added to their belief that there was a technical fault. The report also stated that although an air traffic controller thought the jet was "slightly low" he did not warn the crew about the other runway.
  • 24 May 2007 - The airport was closed by Civil Aviation Authority following an inspection. Problems found include lack of an effective bird control plan, unsuitable temporary repairs to the area where planes park and poor runway drainage.[29] Four days later, after reinspection, the CAA allowed the airport to be reopened. Changes made to the airport included placing nets over culverts and ponds nearby, repairs to the aircraft parking apron and minor drainage work carried out on the runway. All cancelled airlines, including British Airways and Ryanair subsequently resumed full services.[30]


  1. ^ a b c Londonderry/Eglinton - EGAE
  2. ^ a b c UK Annual Airport Statistics
  3. ^ "Directions – Derry Airport". City of Derry Airport. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  4. ^ Lough Foyle. The Rspb (2010-06-21). Retrieved on 2013-07-23.
  5. ^ Bird Strike Grounds Derry Flight - Northern Ireland News. (2009-08-04). Retrieved on 2013-07-23.
  6. ^ "Birds 'inherent risk to aircraft'". BBC News. 4 August 2009. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  7. ^ Civil Aviation Authority Aerodrome Ordinary Licences[dead link]
  8. ^ Aer Arann Announces New Routes From Derry to Manchester and Birmingham Retrieved 2008-06-15
  9. ^ New Manager, Derry Journal.
  10. ^ Balkan Holidays
  11. ^ City airport redevelopment plans
  12. ^ "A5 Dualling Derry to Aughnacloy"
  13. ^ "A6 Dualling Dungiven to Derry"
  14. ^ 11 June 2008 - Over £1billion transport investment planned for North West
  15. ^ 9 October 2009 - Privatisation Plans for Airport
  16. ^ BBC News On-line: City of Derry Airport in New Partnership. Retrieved 12 August 2010
  17. ^ Google maps link showing relationship between railway and runway
  18. ^ [1] NIR Network Statement 2014
  19. ^ New Hope for Airport as possible routes under discussion, Derry Journal.
  20. ^ Airport has now 'turned corner' - Local News. Derry Journal (2010-04-12). Retrieved on 2013-07-23.
  21. ^ - Page 58
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ Number of Movements represents total air transport takeoffs and landings during that year.
  28. ^ BBC News
  29. ^ Airport shut over safety concerns
  30. ^ BBC News - City airport cleared to re-open

External links[edit]

Media related to City of Derry Airport at Wikimedia Commons