City of Derry Airport’s (LDY) traffic is expected recover to about 85% of pre-pandemic levels this year, boosted by new connections launched by Loganair and Ryanair.
But Steve Frazer, MD of the Northern Irish airport, believes the city remains “massively underserved” and has urged more carriers to look at regional airports like LDY as they seek to rebuild traffic.
“People are telling us they want to fly local—they don’t want to travel two or three hours to get to an airport on the other side of the country,” Frazer said. “That’s hugely positive for us because we have a big catchment area, but it means we have to deliver on getting the right frequencies and choice.
“At the moment, some airlines think they are serving Northern Ireland because they operate flights to Belfast. However, they’re totally neglecting the north-west region and we’re working to ensure that changes.”
Ryanair returned to the airport last December with a route to Manchester (MAN)—a year after pulling flights to Edinburgh (EDI) and Liverpool (LPL) following a row with the UK Civil Aviation Authority—and from May 2 increased service from three flights a week to 4X-weekly.
Loganair also serves Glasgow (GLA), Liverpool and London Stansted (STN) from LDY and on May 17 launches flights to Edinburgh. The LDY-EDI service will initially be served twice a week, rising to 4X-weekly in late-June.
Frazer said that securing hub connectivity remains a priority for LDY, while the airport is also targeting more domestic connections within the UK.
He pointed to Birmingham (BHX) as a large unserved market, saying there is almost 200,000 two-way passengers traveling between LDY’s catchment and Birmingham each year despite the absence of direct air service.
Currently these passengers travel the 90-min. journey to Belfast to catch their flights, with some even traveling as far as Dublin (DUB) some three hours away by road.
However, Frazer said he has been encouraged by the findings of the Union Connectivity Review, a report published for the UK government outlining recommendations to improve transport links. The findings included calls to improve domestic aviation connectivity through revising subsidy rules, and to develop a long-term pipeline of infrastructure investment in Northern Ireland.
Frazer added: “There’s a lot of investment coming into the region, including the £250 million ($312 million) Derry & Strabane City Region City Deal that will boost the economy and help to attract foreign direct investment. We now need to make sure we get the right routes and the right times to support the city.”