The Ulster Unionist Party has renewed its call the abolition of Air Passenger Duty following the announcement that Norwegian Airlines is to withdraw from the Belfast to New York and Boston routes.
Finance Spokesperson and South Antrim MLA Steve Aiken said;
“I am extremely disappointed to learn that Norwegian Airlines is to withdraw from Belfast International Airport, ending its New York and Boston flights.
“It is no coincidence that flights from Edinburgh to the US will also cease (in March 2019), whilst flights from Dublin will continue.
“It simply underlines the importance of abolishing Air Passenger Duty (APD) and the need to improve connectivity and infrastructure to Belfast International Airport, in order to secure some kind of level playing field when it comes to competing with State subsidised airports in the Republic.
Economy Spokesperson Alan Chambers MLA said;
“Belfast International Airport is of crucial importance to the Northern Ireland economy in terms of developing our international links and inbound tourism.
“The loss of any routes is a concern, but the loss of direct links to the USA is at the top end of the scale, given the amount of US investment in Northern Ireland, and the efforts which are made to increase it.
“Belfast International has enjoyed impressive passenger growth over the past three years and this year expects to exceed 6 million passengers for the first time ever. This has brought increased jobs and investment in spite of the fact that APD is acting as a brake on development and expansion.
“I wish Belfast International Airport well in its efforts to secure a new carrier for the vital North American route.”