“moving the airport into a position where it will be fit to go commercial..”

The Irish News reported today that the manager of the City of Derry Airport has been redeployed as a air-traffic controller in the aftermath of last year’s difficulties, the BBC picked up the story here, but there have been other interesting comments about the airport’s future. Yesterday UTV reported that the Chairman of the Assembly’s Regional Development Committee, Fred Cobain, was linking a British and Irish government offer of joint funding of £14.2m to improve safety at the airport to the airport being run by a private company.

UUP Stormont Regional Development Committee chairman Fred Cobain said he hoped the north west gateway would be attractive to a private business in a so-called arms-length deal to separate Derry City Council from day-to-day operations. “The money will be made available to extend the runway, moving the airport into a position where it will be fit to go commercial and the council would take a step back,” he added.

The Regional Development minister has already granted the council the power to compulsary purchase adjoining land and the council, while denying any intention to privatise the airport, has indicated that the kind of franchise-style deal described in the UTV report is on the cards. Adds Additional BBC report here [RealPlayer file]