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Belfast International Airport makes direct appeal to MPs over passenger tax

Published: 22 June 2011

The Managing Director of Belfast International Airport, John Doran, has made a direct appeal to MPs on the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee to do all they can to end the unfairness of Air Passenger Duty.

Mr Doran, who was giving evidence to the Committee at Stormont, said APD was a regressive tax that placed Northern Ireland at a serious disadvantage to the Republic of Ireland.

He said that of immediate concern was the future of the successful Continental Belfast-Newark route where the airline was bearing the burden of APD at the rate of £60 and £120 per economy and business passenger respectively.

Mr Doran told MPs: “APD is bad for airlines, bad for passengers and tourism and bad for NI plc.

“It threatens what is already there and makes the job of attracting new carriers enormously difficult. And without new routes and new services, we will not be able to properly and adequately exploit tourism.  “Direct access into and out of Northern Ireland unlocks all the potential in both the tourism and aviation sectors. The equivalent of APD in the Republic of Ireland is being withdrawn which means that the gulf will widen even further if nothing is done about it.

“APD also has an impact on attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Several US companies located here have said that the Belfast-New York service was pivotal when it came to deciding to invest here. If we lose our one and only direct trans-Atlantic link because of APD, serious damage will have been done to the drive to attract lucrative, mobile investment.

“We can fix this problem. We can remove the disadvantage and unfairness and I would appeal to you today to make the strongest possible representations to Treasury to see that Ministers take the appropriate action.

“Ideally, we’d like to see APD as a tax raising power devolved to the Assembly, but in the meantime, steps have got to be taken to create a level playing pitch with the Republic of Ireland”.

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