Long: Government must do more to address Air Passenger Duty

Naomi Long MP has called on the Government to overhaul the Air Passenger Duty system to make it fairer, including removing the double duty levied on Northern Ireland flyers changing flights at GB airports for onward travel.

The East Belfast MP questioned the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Sajid Javid MP, in the House of Commons today, asking for further research to be commissioned to determine the effect of Air Passenger Duty (APD) on UK holidaymakers, employment and economic growth.

She specifically raised the issue of double payment of APD on travellers forced to change flights at GB hubs due the restricted number of through-carriers operating out of NI.

A long-time campaigner on the issue, Mrs Long has said she is not satisfied with the response given, as the Secretary indicated the government had no intention of assessing the issue further.

Naomi Long MP said: “I am not satisfied with the response I received today. The Government must recognise the economic effect APD is having on Northern Ireland’s economy and move forward in addressing the issue.

“Northern Ireland finds itself in a unique situation, as the only region of the UK that shares a land border with another EU Member State. The competitive pricing offered in the Republic of Ireland directly affects the not just aviation, but tourism and the wider economy in Northern Ireland.

“APD levels on necessary internal flights and the double charging on onward flights place our airports at a distinct competitive disadvantage when compared with Dublin Airport which is only 90 minutes from Belfast and a viable alternative to other hubs, and takes revenue away from the UK Treasury. It also places tourism and business at a competitive disadvantage and incentives travel through other European hubs, including but not limited to Dublin.

“I welcome the move to devolve Band A APD to the Northern Ireland Assembly but believe that further changes are necessary and have the potential to bring wider benefits to the economy.

“While I recognise this work which has already been done with respect to direct long-haul flights, this represents a small though important part of the market. Most travellers will go either to or through a UK airport and the impact upon them has not been addressed.

“Northern Ireland will continue to be at a disadvantage when it comes to attracting new business investment if this situation is not tackled. Many constituents have contacted me regarding the problem and I will continue to seek answers on their behalf.”
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