Belfast Airport says failure to cut APD is 'lost opportunity'
Belfast International Airport said that Northern Ireland is losing over a 1,000,000 additional airline seats with the potential of creating over 750 new jobs because of the failure by the Chancellor to cut the rate of Air Passenger Duty (APD) in his Budget.
Airport Managing Director, Graham Keddie, said the only people cheering at the Chancellor’s decision to retain APD at current levels were airport executives and Ministers in the Republic of Ireland.
Mr Keddie said: “Halving APD would have brought us into line with the next highest APD country in the EU, Germany, but the opportunity was missed in the Budget.
“We know that one airline, Ryanair, is on record as saying that it would add an additional 1,000,000 additional seats from Belfast International if APD was binned.
“We need international connectivity to drive inbound tourism numbers and deliver direct access to important export markets for Northern Ireland business.
“We’re the only region of the UK with a land frontier with a European Member State where APD is zero. That places us at an enormous disadvantage, and means we’re haemorrhaging business to the Republic of Ireland when we could be creating jobs and attracting investment into Northern Ireland.
“Hopefully, by the time the Chancellor delivers his next Budget, wiser counsel will prevail at Treasury.
“This is a ‘must do’ for whatever local administration is established at Stormont. I would urge all the parties to show their support for the elimination of what is an enormous economic disadvantage.
“We need a level playing field. Today’s disappointing decision will do nothing to deliver that objective.”
Responding to the Chancellor’s Budget Statement, Chief Executive of the AOA, Karen Dee said: “Airports provide the necessary infrastructure for the UK’s international connectivity, with aviation the transport mode of choice for most people travelling to and from the UK and for 40% of the UK’s trade. Boosting that international connectivity through unlocking new destinations will be crucial to achieve the Chancellor’s aim of building the foundations of a stronger, fairer, more global Britain.
“That is why it is a missed opportunity for the Chancellor not to have cut Air Passenger Duty today and instead announcing another rise in line with RPI in 2018/19, on top of the RPI rise from April 2017. The UK’s APD is already one of the highest air taxes in the world. With most of our nearest neighbours either charging nothing or less than half of what the UK levies, APD is a tax on the UK’s global competitiveness and connectivity.
“Halving APD, as the AOA had called for alongside A Fair Tax on Flying campaign partners, would have brought the UK into line with the next highest APD equivalent in the EU, in Germany. It would have encouraged airlines to schedule new routes between the UK and new destinations, including in emerging markets, by making those flights more economically viable. It would also have made boosting capacity on existing routes more attractive.
“Cutting APD will boost the UK’s international connectivity and we urge the Chancellor to take action at the first available opportunity. We also continue to urge the Chancellor to make clear that any cut in any part of the UK would immediately be matched across the rest of the UK.”