Airport chiefs appeal to UK government to end APD
THE heads of Northern Ireland's three main airports have together made an impassioned plea to the UK government to scrap Air Passenger Duty (APD).
In a letter addressed to First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office Damian Green and seen by the Irish News, Belfast International, Belfast City and City of Derry Airports have all given their support to the abolition of APD and state they are ready to put their case forward for its removal on the grounds of "both growth and jobs".
As part of the £1 billion deal made by the DUP to prop up the Conservative minority government in June, it was a agreed a report would be commissioned "into the impact of VAT and APD on tourism in Northern Ireland to recommend how best to build upon the growing success of that sector".
In the letter dated August 7, it states that it would be helpful if the airports could be advised of the timescale and information relating to the review into APD in Northern Ireland.
Currently passengers departing or arriving in the north on short-haul flights must pay £13 APD each way, with local airport chiefs describing it as an "anchor" on tourism growth.
If the tax is removed the airports claim they will be able to immediately generate new business.
"We already have a number of our existing and potential airlines ready to commit to flying from Northern Ireland should ADP be removed and we would be most obliged if this review be initiated, completed and the result implemented as soon as possible," the letter says.
The correspondence is signed by chief executive of Belfast City Airport Brian Ambrose, chairman of City of Derry airport Roy Devine and Managing director at Belfast International Airport Graham Keddie.
Two years ago an economic report prepared for the Northern Ireland Executive said there was not a strong enough financial case for abolishing APD.
It said removing the tax would mean a reduction of at least £55 million in Northern Ireland's block grant from Westminster.