‘A body blow to our economy’

Belfast International Airport.
Belfast International Airport.

Local political representatives have hit out after it was announced that the Belfast to Newark United Airlines flight has been scrapped.

United Airlines have announced that it is to cease its once daily flight from Belfast International Airport to Newark Airport in New York, with January 9 next year to be the last flight from Belfast, a decision taken only months after a £9million rescue deal was to be put in place by the NI Executive.

Describing the matter as “an international embarrassment”, Steve Aiken OBE MLA said: “This is an international embarrassment. Simon Hamilton must make a statement today as we need to know how this happened.

“We will be pursuing this by all available means, including by submitting an Urgent Oral Question to the Assembly for Monday morning. The Minister and his Department have questions to answer over how this was allowed to happen.”

The UUP representative added: “We need to know what checks were made with the European Union over state aid and who took the decision that it was not an issue?

“This is a huge blow to our international standing and the Minister must tell us what he intends to do to sort it out.”

Airport DEA Ulster Unionist Party Cllr Paul Michael has described the announcement as a “blow to our local economy, and an opportunity on a plate to our competitors.”

Cllr Michael said: “Graham Keddie and his team at Belfast International Airport have been working tirelessly over the past few years to make this one of Europe’s best International Airports and this decision only hinders the work they have been doing and is total madness.”