City of Derry Airport to get government funding for London flight
The Department for Transport has reached an agreement in principle to provide funding for a flight between City of Derry Airport and London.
This would replace the current Ryanair route to London Stansted due to disappear from March 2017.
The funding would come under a government scheme known as a Public Service Obligation (PSO).
It would be the first UK-government backing for a PSO in Northern Ireland, the Department for Transport has said.
Derry City and Strabane District Council can now begin a tendering process to secure an airline.
Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney said it would be key to the City of Derry's future.
"We're sending a very, very clear signal that the airport has a future and, not only has it a future, but it will get assistance where assistance is appropriate," he said.
"We in the region have always argued the need for a strong airport to attract foreign direct investment and tourism.
"I have all confidence in the management of City of Derry Airport to deliver for us in the future," Mr McCartney said.
Lord Ahmad, the aviation minister, said the UK's airports were vital in supporting local economies.
"That is why the UK government has agreed in principle to support the air route between City of Derry Airport and London," said Lord Ahmad.
"In terms of process, it is important that Derry City and Strabane District Council take forward the tender process to secure this route."
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire said it was good news for travellers in the north west and the wider regional economy.
"Having talked to local business leaders, I know the air link with London plays a vital role," he said.
"I am pleased the UK government has been able to step in to help, as part of our commitment to build a Northern Ireland that works for everyone," he said.