Air passenger duty set to be cut
Air passenger duty (APD) will be cut for long-haul flights from Northern Ireland, the government has announced.
The change will come into force on November 1 when it will move to the lower short-haul rate - currently £12 per passenger in economy and £24 for business and first-class passengers.
The move comes after Continental Airlines warned that Northern Ireland's only transatlantic route could be axed if APD, which currently adds £60 to every US flight, was not cut.
There had been calls for a change to help compete with the lower rates on offer in the Republic of Ireland.
The Westminster government has also said it will seek to devolve aspects of the APD powers to Stormont.
Chancellor George Osborne, in consultation with Secretary of State Owen Paterson and the Northern Ireland Executive, announced the proposal to reduce the levy. They said the change would ensure the US air link remained open and they hope the reduced rate could even attract other long-haul carriers.
The Chancellor said: "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.
"Northern Ireland faces a unique challenge in attracting traffic - including very valuable business customers - into its airports.
"By announcing this immediate cut and our intention to devolve aspects of APD, the UK Government is renewing its commitment to stimulating and rebalancing the Northern Ireland economy."
The Government said it will launch a parallel process to devolve aspects of APD to the Northern Ireland Assembly, as a recognition of its unique circumstances. The precise scope of devolution will be agreed in co-operation with the Northern Ireland Executive.