Business leaders call for chancellor to scrap APD in Wednesday's budget

Empty desks at Belfast City Airport following the collapse of Flybe. Picture by David Young/PA

THE leaders of four business bodies in the north have called on Chancellor Sunak Rishi to scrap domestic Air Passenger Duty (APD) in tomorrow's budget statement in the hope of rescuing regional air connectivity following the collapse of Flybe.

The Business Alliance is a partnership between the Confederation of British Industry Northern Ireland (CBI NI), the Centre for Competitiveness, the Institute of Directors Northern Ireland (IoD NI), and the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Their call follows the intervention of First Minister Arlene Foster last week, who called on the UK government to ‘step up' on APD. Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill echoed the call, urging London to pull the policy levers.

In a joint statement on Tuesday, the leaders of the business bodies said Flybe's collapse had significantly impacted air connectivity in Northern Ireland.

The four groups said its members were among the 1.6 million passengers that regularly availed of Flybe's 14 routes from Belfast City Airport.

“These 14 routes fed directly into business hubs throughout the UK, including many cities within the ‘northern powerhouse'.

“To that end we're calling on the Chancellor to scrap domestic APD in his budget statement tomorrow.

“This will kick start regional air connectivity in Belfast, whilst assisting airports such as Belfast City as they pursue new airlines to fill these routes in a difficult environment.”

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