Belfast long-haul flights given tax break

28 Sep 11
Northern Ireland's only intercontinental air link has been handed a tax break to help it survive.
By Mark Smulian | 28 September 2011

Northern Ireland’s only intercontinental air link has been handed a tax break to help it survive.

Chancellor George Osborne said he acted because competition from the Republic of Ireland had jeopardised Continental Airlines’ flight from Belfast to Newark, in the United States.

Under the concession, Airline Passenger Duty on long-haul flights from the province will be cut to £12 for economy class passengers and £24 for others, the same as for short-haul.

The tax had previously been at the usual long-haul rates of £60 and £120 respectively. Flight taxes in the republic have been lower and are about to be abolished.

Osborne said the change meant that the flight route would continue and that Northern Ireland would have the opportunity to develop other long-haul routes.

‘The government has taken proactive measures to protect the only direct long-haul service operating from Northern Ireland and with it the jobs of those who serve the Belfast route,’ Osborne said.

‘The land border with the Republic of Ireland, with its differential rates of air passenger tax, had threatened to make long-haul flights from Belfast uneconomic.’

Control over aspects of APD would be devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly, he added.

Continental senior director Bob Schumacher told the Northern Ireland select committee in July: ‘We are committed to the service, but we are constantly seeing this leak [from APD] out of our pocket of approximately seven weeks' worth of revenue on that service.’


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