The Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance have reacted to the news that Ryanair are pulling all their flights from Northern Ireland by calling on the Executive to lend their support to all three of Northern Ireland’s airport who are working hard to recover following an extremely difficult 18 months.
Ryanair cited the reason for the withdrawal of flights from all three airports as “the UK government’s refusal to suspend or reduce APD (Air Passenger Duty)”.
NITA CEO Joanne Stuart said: “Losing any air routes is disappointing given the importance of air connectivity to tourism and the economy in Northern Ireland.
“The UK has been slower than most of the EU in reopening international travel and this impacts on the ability of airlines to operate in a financially viable way.”
Air Passenger Duty (APD) is a mandatory tax that must be charged by airlines operating out of the UK (including NI) on a per passenger basis. APD was introduced by the UK Government on 1 November 1994.
APD is added to all short haul journeys from Northern Ireland with prices starting from £13 per flight. There is no APD on long haul flights.
The Republic of Ireland has no aviation duty on flights. At a time when the Northern Ireland economy is only beginning to recover from the decimation caused by the pandemic the widespread consensus is that APD is doing Northern Ireland more harm than good.
Joanne continued: “The NI Executive took the decision not to align with RoI with regard to visitors from EU and USA and with the additional cost and testing required for visitors from EU to come to NI, flying to Dublin may be seen as a better option for inbound tourists.
“In addition, air passenger duty is not charged in RoI and this adds another cost to flights from Belfast. Our airports have proven that they are good at bringing on new airlines and routes and it is important that government provide the support to secure new routes from October by aligning travel regulations and addressing the competitive disadvantage caused by APD.”