“This is a disappointing move that has the potential to be a major economic blow for Northern Ireland,” said Mr Blair.
“To lose a direct air route between Northern Ireland and the United States is a setback for businesses, as well as tourists. I know huge efforts have been made by the International Airport to improve services and the number of flights there, and I commend them for that.
“Undoubtedly, one major factor impacting Belfast International Airport’s ability to compete is air passenger duty. Air transport here already faces challenges due to geography, so air passenger duty even further disproportionately affects the airport and others. If it was removed or reduced, it could see airlines return services and travellers facing fewer costs.
“When the Executive returns, one of its priorities must be to develop a clear strategy on attracting other airlines as a matter of urgency, to develop our air links and grow our economy.”