7 NOVEMBER 2016
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Officials in Northern Ireland have reacted angrily against the EU after United Airlines said it was ending its daily Belfast – New York Newark service. Economy minister Simon Hamilton attacked "unelected Brussels bureaucrats" for the loss of the region's only direct US air link.
Hamilton expressed regret at the airline's decision and pointed the finger of blame at the European Commission, which blocked a funding package for United on state aid grounds.
"The executive did the right thing with its bid to save this key route,” Hamilton said. “There was a risk to the flight and we stepped in to save it. Faced with the same circumstances again, I would make the same decisions. All public money has been recouped with interest and we retained the route for a longer period.”
The United service recently carried its one millionth passenger but the airline confirmed in a statement its last flight would depart from Belfast on 9 January because of the route's poor financial performance.”
Belfast International Airport managing director Graham Keddie said the EU decision defied logic: "You could hardly get a worse example of process-driven madness. To block a support package for an airline that delivers direct access to the US is almost beyond comprehension.”
All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum
Andrew Sharp, St Albans UK
I thought that the daily BA flight to BWI was subsidised by the State of Maryland. Presumably being subsidised by the UK Government or NI Assembly is different?