Airline Flybe went into administration leaving thousands of passengers stranded earlier this morning.
In the last few minutes Economy Minister Diane Dodds said;
“I deeply regret the closure of Flybe and I fully appreciate that many people will be impacted here – both employees and passengers.
“In January, the UK Government announced that it had reached an agreement with the shareholders of Flybe, who had agreed to put more money into the business, on the basis that there will be reviews into both Air Passenger Duty and Regional Air Connectivity. These are being led by the Treasury and the Department for Transport (DfT) respectively. I am deeply disappointed that this agreement has not been able to secure the survival of the company.
“I personally highlighted to the Prime Minister the importance of Flybe to Northern Ireland’s air connectivity.
“Maintaining air connectivity is absolutely vital to Northern Ireland – to enable access to the economic market in Great Britain and for tourists arriving to our airports from Great Britain and beyond.
“I made that point clearly to the then Minister for Aviation Paul Maynard, when I met him last month, and again to the Secretary of State yesterday evening. I also recently brought the International Trade Minister Conor Burns to meet with Belfast City Airport highlighting the importance of regional connectivity with GB.
“And I will continue to raise the issue in Whitehall at every opportunity.
“My department will work closely with DfT to assist, as required, with the repatriation of Northern Ireland passengers.”