Northern Ireland and the USA

By | Category: Travel rumblings

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee of the House of Commons has suggested that air passenger duty (APD) on all flights from Northern Ireland should be abolished.
Why?
To counter the threat the tax poses to the economy of the province. But we all face this tax wherever we live in the UK. What’s so special about Northern Ireland?
The answer is that the Republic of Ireland only charges €3 APD and will shortly abolish that. Instead of using airports in Northern Ireland people will drive to Dublin or Shannon to take flights thus hitting the income that would have been generated had those people flown from one of the two Belfast airports or Derry.
Last month Continental Airlines warned that its Belfast-New York service would have to be reconsidered if APD wasn’t reduced. They told the MP’s on the committee that their flights attract £3.2 million a year in tax whereas if they flew from Dublin, nothing would be due. Up till now Continental says, it has been paying the APD in order to support the route. They obviously fear that those in the north will opt for flights from the south. From Dublin, Aer Lingus, Continental and Delta connect directly with New York.
The committee wondered whether there should be local measures to mitigate the tax the report says. It says that if APD was withdrawn then the …” tourist industry stands a chance of being able to compete with the Republic of Ireland.” But the same could be said to apply to the rest of the UK. To compete with countries in Europe should we have to pay £60 more to fly to the US than the Dutch who have no APD?
Because we are a group of islands, unless you take the rail line under the English Channel you have to catch a ferry, fly or stay at home. Domestic tourist boards would love us to stay at home but it isn’t going to happen. At least those living in Northern Ireland have a get-out of this, the highest tax faced by travellers. We in England, Wales and Scotland are stuck with it and with no cheap option to avoid it. I’ve tried. I’ve costed taking the train to Amsterdam via Brussels to see if I can save money on flights.
Outside Northern Ireland, the rest of us are caught between a rock and a hard place.

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