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Sinn Féin backs transatlantic air route rescue package

Sinn Féin has said it supports the executive's plan to give United Airlines £9m

SINN Féin has said it supports a multi-million-pound rescue package aimed at retaining the north's only transatlantic air route.

The executive has agreed to give United Airlines £9m over the next three years after the Chicago-based carrier warned that it was close to scrapping daily flights from Belfast International to Newark.

Stormont already subsidies the route to the tune of £2m a year by picking up the bill for Air Passenger Duty (APD).

Green MLA Steven Agnew has said the availability of several daily flights from Dublin to the US means the executive is "propping up a vanity project".

The SDLP has called for the process by which the rescue deal was arrived at to be made public.

But Sinn Féin has backed the bail-out for the route.

"Sinn Féin supported the recommendation of the economy minister that the executive back the United Airlines service as its loss would have had a negative impact on job creation through inward investment and tourism," a party spokesman said.

"This was a team effort between the executive and Belfast International Airport to protect local jobs and keep access to a very important air route."

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