City of Derry Airport
|City of Derry Airport
|Owner||Derry City and Strabane District Council|
|Operator||City of Derry Airport Operations Ltd.|
|Serves||Derry, Northern Ireland|
|Location||Eglinton, County Londonderry,
|Elevation AMSL||23 ft / 7 m|
City of Derry Airport (IATA: LDY, ICAO: EGAE) is a regional airport located 7 mi (11 km) northeast of Derry, Northern Ireland. 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 airport, which is also locally known as Eglinton Airport, has been experiencing decreasing passenger numbers since 2011. In 2015, 284,482 passengers used the airport, which is a 18.8% decrease when compared with 2014. Ryanair is the only airline to serve the airport with scheduled flights.
1945 to 1989
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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 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
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. 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.
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 saw 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.
2006 to 2011
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.
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.
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 also enabled Ryanair to establish their first international route from the airport to Alicante.
In April 2009 the council issued tender documents for a multimillion-pound expansion of the terminal to improve passenger flow and meet current EU customs and immigration regulations. 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.
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.
In June 2010 it was announced 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. Because it is in the Runway End Safety Area, safety systems ensure that no train can pass when aircraft are taking off or landing.
2011 to present
Ryanair announced on 13 September 2016 that it would axe its daily service to London Stansted Airport from March 2017, axe its seasonal route to Faro at the end of September 2016 and reduce frequency on its Liverpool route from six flights per week to two flights per week. Ryanair had previously axed its service to Alicante and Birmingham in 2014. As Ryanair is the sole airline to offer scheduled flights, the news left the airport's future in doubt. In response, the airport submitted a public service obligation request to the Department for Transport in London, so a double daily service to London could be set up following Ryanair's withdrawal of the London service. The Northern Ireland Executive also agreed a multimillion pound funding package for the airport on 15 September 2016.
Airlines and destinations
The following airlines operate regular scheduled and charter flights to and from Derry:
|ASL Airlines Ireland||Seasonal charter: Palma de Mallorca (begins 26 June 2017)|
|Ryanair||Glasgow, Liverpool, London-Stansted (ends 25 March 2017)|
|Rank||Airport||Passengers handled||2014-2015 Change|
|1||London Stansted Airport||126,306||0%|
|Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority |
Accidents and incidents
- On 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. 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.
- Londonderry/Eglinton - EGAE
- "PROVISIONAL CAA AIRPORT STATISTICS FOR DECEMBER 2015" (PDF). UK Civil Aviation Authority. 22 January 2016. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
- "Directions – Derry Airport". City of Derry Airport. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
- Aer Arann Announces New Routes From Derry to Manchester and Birmingham Retrieved 2008-06-15
- "City airport redevelopment plans". 17 April 2009 – via bbc.co.uk.
- "Privatisation plans for airport". 9 October 2009 – via bbc.co.uk.
- "City of Derry airport in new partnership".
-  NIR Network Statement 2014
- "City of Derry Airport: Ryanair flight to London axed". BBC News. 13 September 2016.
- "City of Derry Airport: Stormont funding package agreed". BBC News. 15 September 2016.
- cityofderryairport.com - FLIGHT TIMETABLE retrieved 6 August 2016
- Number of Passengers including both domestic and international.
- Number of Movements represents total air transport takeoffs and landings during that year.
- "Airport shut over safety concerns". 24 May 2007 – via bbc.co.uk.
- "Inquiry into closure of airport". 29 May 2007 – via bbc.co.uk.
Media related to City of Derry Airport at Wikimedia Commons