‘Air passenger duty potential needs to be maximised’ – Bradley

Newry Times News Posted by
Friday, October 19th, 2012

SDLP Finance spokesperson Dominic Bradley has said the potential devolution of Air Passenger Duty on both long and short haul flights here far outweighs the costs and added the Executive must be seeking all economic levers available to it.

The Newry and Armagh MLA was speaking during the Second Stage of the Air Passenger Duty Bill on the floor of the Assembly this week.

He said: “The SDLP supports the bill. With the devolution of Air Passenger Duty comes the potential of an estimated benefit of £100m to the local economy. In this case the cost is relatively small, around £5m per annum.

“In recent months the airports told the Finance and Personnel Committee that three new carriers with similar levels of passenger carriage would create £300-£400 million in extra revenue and generate thousands of jobs. So this measure creates a potential, one which is well worth exploiting.

He continued, “If we can encourage people to fly to Belfast the likelihood is greater that they will stay in this region and we get the economic benefit from that in a many ways. Short haul flights make up 98.5% of flights from NI and clearly demonstrate our dependence on air travel.

“We are in direct competition with Dublin. The domestic rate for APD here is £13 as compared with three euro in Dublin. A family of four from Newry would pay £100 in taxes to fly from Belfast compared with twelve euro from Dublin.

Bradley added, “Our main market for connections is the UK and Europe by a huge margin and we must remember that they are our main tourism and business markets.

“The cost to the block grant of removing APD on the shorter Band A flights would be much higher, £50 – £60m, than that presently being proposed but nonetheless we believe that a proper cost benefit analysis should be carried out in order to inform a real debate around removing APD for Short Haul flights.

“The SDLP welcomes the main measures contained in the bill. We believe that we should use this change to our fullest possible economic advantage.”

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