The economy minister has confirmed that while EU forces had a role to play it was United Airlines who ultimately made the decision to quit Belfast.
Simon Hamilton’s statement comes after the European Commission denied it had blocked the move to save NI’s only US air link.
Mr Hamilton said the commission held the view that a £9 million subsidy package for the New York service constituted state aid.
He said it was poised to trigger a formal investigation into a complaint received about the Executive package.
“Faced with the commission’s starting viewpoint and the likelihood that this would be confirmed in the formal investigation of the complaint, United took the decision to end the service,” he said.
“I deeply regret that decision, but that does not mean we were wrong to try to save the route.
“Our critics have to decide if they are complaining about the loss of the route or our attempt to preserve it. They can’t have it both ways.”