Belfast International Airport says 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.”