Airport calls on Ministers to re-think APD

22 Apr 2015

Airport calls on Ministers to re-think APD after new report points to economic benefits

Belfast International airport has called on Ministers to re-think their stance on Air Passenger Duty (APD) after a leading firm of

international aviation consultants rejected earlier claims on the cost of doing away with the tax.

Consultants Mott MacDonald carried out a critique of the report carried out by the NI Centre for Economic Policy (NICEP) which was commissioned by the Departments of Finance and Personnel and Enterprise Trade and Investment. Mott MacDonald, in a 46-page report, concluded that there was calculation error, outdated data and unreasonable, unexplained or

unsupported assumptions in the NICEP Government-backed report.

The consultants said: “We have found there is a strong economic case for the benefits of reducing or abolishing APD in Northern Ireland.” Belfast International Airport said it was prompted to ask Mott MacDonald to conduct an objective analysis of the NICEP report after the local administration, in marked contrast to Scotland and Wales, failed to support the case for seeking the devolved power.

Airport Managing Director, Graham Keddie, said: “This analysis blows the NICEP report out of the water. It shows it to be flawed and unreliable. 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 in the Northern Ireland Executive to think again. At the very least, they should study this document from one of the top firms in aviation and transport matters and acknowledge that a mistake has been made.

“There’s much to gain from securing APD powers. Even if the tax was cut by half, Mott McDonald says it might support 3,800 additional jobs and £200 million per annum in Gross Value Added (GVA). That makes this worthy of a second look. “We shouldn’t run away and hide from securing APD power. Instead of seeing it as a cost on the Block Grant, we should be courageous enough to view it as the key to unlocking huge economic potential.

“New airlines, new businesses, additional, badly needed jobs, a level playing pitch with Dublin Airport, which has the advantage of no passenger tax, and increased international connectivity are all achievable if we do away with this damaging tax.

“We have an opportunity here to follow the Irish experience and what the Scottish Government is determined to achieve. Let’s grasp it with both hands and move to properly and sensibly exploit a sector that for too long has been overlooked.”

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