Brexit, Air Passenger Duty (APD) and assistance for new long-haul airlines were items on the agenda during a visit by the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling MP, to Belfast International Airport today (Thurs., 2nd Nov.).
The Minister spent an hour in discussions with the airport team led by the Managing Director, Graham Keddie. Afterwards, Mr Grayling described the discussions as ‘a solid contribution to the wider aviation debate’.
Mr Keddie said: “We emphasised that there were some positives to flow from Brexit including attracting more passengers from the Republic of Ireland due to the weaker rate of sterling against the euro".
Keddie added, “We urged Mr Grayling to take steps to stop the ‘backdoor’ plunder of NI passengers by Dublin Airport by making the case for the removal of APD on short-haul routes, essentially our bread and butter.
“For example, the share of APD, derived from UK Domestic Routes, is less than 10% of the £3.4 billion that’s collected and if that was eliminated, it would give this airport, and the Northern Ireland region, a huge economic boost meaning we could deliver more European and domestic routes. We could see our passenger numbers increase by as many as two million which would deliver almost 2,000 jobs on the airport site in aviation-related businesses.
“We also pressed Mr Grayling on practical assistance for long-haul routes to grow that element of our business and we would also see big advantages by having a dedicated Route Development Initiative and support from the UK government.”