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24 May 2022

"I can only really manage to get home a couple of times a year now"

Demand for more Ryanair flights to return to Derry airport as many struggle to afford to visit home

"I can only really manage to get home a couple of times a year now"

Demand for more Ryanair flights to return to Derry airport as many struggle to afford to visit home

Low cost airline, Ryanair, initially pulled many of their UK flights, including from City of Derry airport, as a result of the cost of operating at the airports, Brexit, as well as the UK government's "refusal to suspend or reduce" air passenger duty.

Air Passenger Duty is a tax levied on air passengers, which varies according to destination and class of travel.

Ryanair have since resumed their Derry to Manchester flight at the end of last year, however, they show no signs of resuming their other flights from City of Derry airport, including any flights to Scotland.

This has left many Common Travel Area travellers, hoping to utilise Derry airport, unable to afford the increased flight prices which CODA's key partner, Loganair, charge.

Loganair currently operates from City of Derry airport and provides flights to 
Glasgow, Liverpool and London Stansted with an Edinburgh flight route commencing in May 2022.

Many have expressed their concerns for travelling home to or from Derry to visit family as a result of the higher flight prices.

Méabh Deeney, originally from Derry who now works and lives in Glasgow, says Ryanair scrapping their Derry to Scotland route has made it difficult for her to visit home.

"I used to fly from Derry to Edinburgh to travel to Glasgow," she said. "Their flights were dropped and now Loganair is my only option from Derry.

"I rarely fly with them as it is so expensive and now I usually travel to Belfast International to fly to Glasgow and vice versa.

"I live and work in Glasgow now so I travel home to Derry to see my friends and family.

"Usually when I am booking tickets, I will take into consideration whether or not I need to bring luggage and if I do then I will fly with Loganair but if not, which is usually the case if I'm just going home for the weekend, I'll fly into and from Belfast.

"Having to work out luggage, travel costs and how much time I have at home is a bit of a nightmare.

"With Covid and the price of flights, I can only really manage to get home a couple of times a year now.

"Before Ryanair scrapped their Edinburgh flight, I would have been home much more often, maybe about once a month.

"I'd like to get home more often but I just can't afford to fork out £150 every month or so."

Rachel Dalton, who lives in London with her partner from Derry, also criticised the current prices and how they hinder them visiting family in Derry.

"It used to cost £30 each to fly there, now you're lucky if it's under £100.

"This Christmas, it was over £300, so we flew to Belfast and got a coach but it was still over £100 each."

Matt Barrow used to visit family in Derry frequently but says he does not use the route as often now, "Ryanair prices were very reasonable so I always took that option," he said.

"Loganair is much more expensive so now I use the route less. It is usually cheaper, and by some distance, to fly to Belfast and then travel by road to Derry but this is also extra cost and time.

"It will also have knock on impacts for people wanting to travel to or holiday in Donegal. It is a real shame."

Steve Frazer, Managing Director at City of Derry Airport said they remain in discussions with Ryanair over additional routes.

"We are delighted to have Ryanair back in the North West, operating three times weekly to Manchester, a route that has been in demand with our local catchment area for some time.

“Whilst we remain in discussions over additional routes, Ryanair UK have stated that domestic Air passenger duty-even with a 50 per cent cut from April 23- places us in an uncompetitive position compared to countries where the rate is zero.

“Loganair have continued to provide connectivity for the North West region and have added another destination to Edinburgh starting in May. 

"Last year, they also stepped in to fill the gap left when Ryanair UK were unable to operate to Liverpool due to restrictions post Brexit.

"Of course, Loganair with smaller aircraft do offer a different product and pricing structure with baggage included.

"Their fares currently start from £40.99 one-way, a product which continues to serve a healthy mix of business and leisure travellers.

“As a result of changing market behaviours, our flights have been extremely busy due to a pent up demand from visiting friends and family, increase in demand for domestic flights from GB visitors travelling to NI for staycations due to the international travel restrictions, and a continuing trend of many passengers wanting to fly local to minimise the total journey times in shared vehicles.

"As a result the lower fares on Loganair routes have sold well in advance of travel due to the early booking demand. 

“Passengers booking last minute travel have sometimes experienced the higher category tickets as they were the only available fares. 

"We are in continuous dialogue with Loganair as a key partner and will continue to work with them, and all airlines, to improve our connectivity and encourage as many lower category fares as possible to be made available. 

“Whilst we recognise that during peak holiday periods this has been experienced more than we would have liked, we have also received tour operator feedback throughout the year that booking flights to UK destinations has been cheaper from CODA when compared to our nearest competitors when comparing like for like with a bag included-this is before additional transport costs and parking were also factored, further increasing the cost.

“We would encourage those who can plan ahead, to do so and get the best fares possible, as well as take advantage of sale periods.”

Commenting on Ryanair pulling their flights from City of Derry airport in late December 2020, Ryanair’s Commercial Director, Jason McGuinness, said: "While Ryanair is committed to the UK and to Derry airport, the lack of Government support continues to create barriers to boosting traffic and growth.”

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