Northern Ireland

Belfast International Airport calls for air passenger duty rethink

Image copyright Aaron McCracken/Harrisons
Image caption Belfast International Airport manager Graham Keddie said the new analysis on APD "blows the [Executive's] report out of the water"

Belfast International Airport has urged Stormont ministers to "rethink their position" on air passenger duty (APD), after consultants disputed claims about the cost of doing away with the tax.

The airport claims work done for ministers on the issue is "unreliable".

The Executive has not pressed for control over all APD because the cost of removing it would hit Northern Ireland's block grant from Westminster.

It would mean a reduction of at least £55m annually.

Devolved

The Executive's position was bolstered by a recent report carried out by the Northern Ireland Centre for Economic Policy.

The benefits - potentially new air routes bringing more visitors - were said not to outweigh the cost.

Currently, only the power over APD on long-haul flights is devolved.

The airport has now produced its own report from aviation consultants Mott MacDonald, which found "a strong economic case for the benefits of reducing or abolishing" all APD in Northern Ireland.

It said abolishing APD would mean flights in and out of Northern Ireland would be cheaper, and cheaper flights mean more business and leisure travellers.

Unexplained

Airport manager director Graham Keddie said: "This analysis blows the [Executive's] report out of the water.

"The consultants have found that there are large, positive net economic benefits to doing away with APD.

"That, in our book, is reason enough for ministers to think again."

The airport's consultants claimed the report for the Executive had used "unexplained methodology".

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