Long asks Chancellor about action on Air Passenger Duty

Alliance Deputy Leader Naomi Long MP has asked today asked the Chancellor at Westminster what action he intends to take in relation to Air Passenger Duty, given the impact which the difference in levels between Belfast and Dublin is having particularly on its transatlantic air links. Naomi Long MP is a Member of the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee which recently called for the scrapping of APD.

Speaking after Treasury Questions, she said: “I asked the Chancellor what action he will take on Air Passenger Duty, given that the current level has an acute impact in Northern Ireland, where it is a burden on business, a barrier to tourism and most worrying is jeopardising our single remaining direct transatlantic connection with profound consequences for the Northern Ireland economy.

“I also asked the Chancellor when he intends to act to protect transatlantic air routes. Whilst he stated that he is engaging with all parties and is aware of the importance of the issue, I remain concerned that there is insufficient urgency in Treasury on this matter.

“The Committee reported prior to recess when the Treasury consultation also closed yet there appears to have been no real progress in the meantime.

“There is a real urgency to this situation: if a favourable decision is not taken soon, the situation may be taken out of his hands by Continental Airlines, as the current situation is not sustainable. This would not just affect the existing Belfast to New York flight but the possibility of any future transatlantic routes would also be all but extinguished.

“If the Chancellor is serious about economic growth in Northern Ireland, this is an opportunity to take the initiative. The loss of the transatlantic service here would place a massive barrier to inward investment and to tourism.

“This is an extremely challenging time for our economy and the last thing anyone needs is to lose a key link with North America as we try to attract more investors here. The Chancellor must act quickly because the ramifications of the wrong decision on APD could be very damaging to our economy and tourism industry.”


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