Belfast International Airport has set out a case for the removal of Air Passenger Duty (APD) in its formal submission to a Government consultation.

The airport said the APD is an economic impediment that denies Northern Ireland the opportunity to expand its destination network and create new jobs in the aviation, tourism and hospitality sectors.

“We now have a golden opportunity to convince the Government of the uniquely challenging burden which the continued application of Air Passenger Duty creates in Northern Ireland,” said Belfast International Airport managing director, Graham Keddie.

He added: “This tax makes us less able to compete on a level playing field with the Republic of Ireland where passenger tax was very deliberately consigned to the bin to reap dividends from the continued application of this onerous tax ‘up the road’ in Northern Ireland.”

Keddie suggested that the “millions that would flow” to HM Treasury coffers as a result of increased personal taxation from thousands of new jobs, would surpass the amount raised by APD.

He went on to say: “Airlines have already told us that if the Government removed the burden of APD, they would invest massively in Northern Ireland with more based aircraft and a plethora of new mainland European destinations.

“The transformation for our entire tourism sector and its positive impact on the local economy would be immense, which is why we will be making the strongest possible case for the removal of this retrograde tax.”

Keddie said Belfast International Airport is heading for a record-breaking year, but “much more could be delivered if we were successful in equalising our air tax status with that in the Republic of Ireland.”

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