Belfast Telegraph

MPs to probe impact of air tax

A group of MPs have announced they will investigate the impact of Air Passenger Duty in Northern Ireland.

The Consumer Council has said the tax should be scrapped because of the region's dependence on flight connections in Great Britain.

The amount levied on a return flight from Belfast to London could increase from £24 to £32 per person because of a review.

The Treasury is consulting on options for reform and wants to ensure aviation meets the cost of its impact on the environment.

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee is to consider how air passenger duty affects individuals, airports and airlines, businesses and tourism in Northern Ireland. The inquiry will contrast the UK rate of APD to the low rate in force in the Republic of Ireland.

A first public evidence session will be held at Stormont on June 21 and will hear evidence from managers at Belfast City Airport.

A report drawn up for easyJet estimates that there could be a reduction of 104,000 passenger journeys through Northern Ireland if proposed changes in the consultation are introduced. The Government is considering changing the law to broaden the aviation tax base.

Currently, the total of APD levied depends on how far you fly and is divided into four bands. That could be reduced to two under the proposals, which the Consumer Council warned could lead to some passengers paying more.

Northern Ireland, as part of the UK, has the highest level of aviation duty in Europe.

Most travel is to visit friends and family, often meaning entire families flying for special occasions and soaring air duty costs. In Dublin the equivalent tax is three euros (£2.60) per person and that may be removed.

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