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easyJet appears before the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee to give evidence on the air transport strategy for Northern Ireland

Published: 12 September 2012

easyJet, Northern Ireland's largest airline, today appeared before the House of Commons Northern Ireland affairs committee to give evidence on the air transport strategy for Northern Ireland and highlight easyJet's long term commitment to serving the region.

Speaking at today's House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Paul Simmons, the airline's UK Director said: “easyJet started its Belfast operation on 18 Sept 1998; we have a local base located at Belfast International Airport and we directly employ over 230 local people.

In Northern Ireland easyJet has grown over the past 14 years to become the largest airline in the region with a market share of 46%, serving 23 destinations direct from Belfast International Airport. easyJet also fly to 4 London airports offering passengers the best access to London. By way of comparison Aer Lingus has 8% market share, and with BMI taken into account British Airways has 7% of market share.

Northern Ireland has seen several airlines come and go from Belfast, but easyJet’s consistence in the Northern Ireland market and experience of carrying over 34 million passengers since its launch in the region makes it well placed to give evidence on matters affecting local people and the local economy in terms of air transport.

Airport Passenger Duty (APD) however, remains one of the most significant barriers to growth in Northern Ireland, with local people being disadvantaged when they fly to UK destinations such as London, Manchester and Scotland as they are hit twice with tax.   This is an unfair tax overall, but it's especially unfair for the people of Northern Ireland. And if this tax is increased, it will have a serious impact on tourism.

Like British Airways, Ryanair and Virgin Atlantic, we continue to call on the Government to publish an independent study of the economic effects of APD. We are confident such a study would show that APD’s damage to economic activity outweighs the revenue obtained. We believe that it is irresponsible of the Treasury, if it is serious about pursuing economic growth, to keep piling on APD increases without conducting a study of this kind."

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