ANALYSIS New York service has long survived on life support

The Newark service was launched from by United (then called Continental) from Aldergrove in 2005

THE United Airlines connection between Belfast and New York has been on life support for some time.

But the plug on the ailing service will finally be pulled in January.

The writing has long been on the wall for the route, first launched in 2005 and which has carried one million passengers during that time.

Last year, the service was suspended for several months while United announced plans to stop altogether in the summer.

There is no doubt the existence of a direct route between Northern Ireland and America was a useful tool in encouraging foreign investors to set up in Belfast.

Roger Pollen from the Federation of Small Businesses yesterday said the route was "highly valued, not only because it enabled many investors and visitors to fly directly into Northern Ireland, but because of the signal it sent about our role in the international economy".

Businesses however can take comfort in the more than 150 departures from Dublin bound for North America each week.

After all, thousands of holidaymakers already head south of the border to avail of the routes every year without complaint.

And given the growth of Dublin Airport over recent years, it is perhaps time to accept direct links between the north and America may never regain economic viability.

Even an annual £2 million shot in the arm - the result of scrapping air passenger duty (APD) on long haul flights from the north - wasn't enough to make the Newark flights financially successful.

Nor did the measure, first announced in 2011, attract any other operators to establish long haul links with Northern Ireland.

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