Airport backs MPs call for an end to passenger tax
Published: 30 November 2012
Belfast International Airport has said that a report by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on an air transport strategy for the region should ‘kick start a full and productive debate’
The airport has given a broad welcome to several recommendations, and supports the call MPs made for the removal of Air Passenger Duty (APD) on all fights and not just on direct long-haul flights.
Belfast International Airport Managing Director, John Doran, said: “The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has produced a report that should help develop a new approach to a sector that offers considerable but as yet untapped economic potential.
“We are delighted that the NI Assembly has taken the very positive step of tackling the problem caused by the excessive level of APD on long-haul services, as that had the potential to undermine the present trans-Atlantic service and hamper the future development of services to and from the US – a clear threat to tourism and inward investment.
“The removal of APD on short-haul flights would help Northern Ireland compete more effectively with Dublin Airport and produce attractive returns in terms of increased passenger numbers and a viable and expanding tourism sector.
“This is particularly critical as 80% of air traffic in and out of NI is to GB and APD is charged at both ends of a return trip. The result is that on any return trip to any destination in England Scotland or Wales, £26 of the ticket price simply goes on taxation.
“Unlike other UK regions, Northern Ireland is unable to substitute road and rail travel to these destinations, so flying in many cases is an essential service. You could say that the APD regime unfairly penalises NI economic development because of geography.
“Furthermore, we welcome the conclusion of the NIAC that there needs to be improvement in the quality of surface connections to the airports in the region. This is something we at BIA have been saying for some time.
Finally, whilst we agree that connectivity over LHR needs to be maintained for onward connections that cannot and will not be achieved directly from this region, we are pleased that access to the London area is stronger than ever, given the breadth of direct services provided by airlines such as easyjet to all of the London gateways, currently 28 services every day.
“The onus is now on policy-makers to use this report to kick start a full and productive debate as we examine ways of re-balancing the economy”.