Any further relaxation of air passenger duty will cost shrinking Stormont coffers a further £90m, Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has revealed. And the DUP minister suggested perhaps the money could be better spent elsewhere.
His comments came after a committee of MPs called for the £13 tax on all flights to and from Northern Ireland to be scrapped.
The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee said air passenger duty on short haul flights — which make up more than 95 % of all air travel from the province — is a major stumbling block to rebuilding Northern Ireland’s economy.
Mr Wilson yesterday confirmed the Treasury has put a firm £90m price tag on the concession which would come out of Wesminster’s block grant to the Stormont Executive. “It is up to the Executive to work out whether it wants to see the further devolution of air passenger duties,” he told the BBC Northern Ireland Politics Show. “I would want to look at whether the benefits will outweigh the cost.”
Mr Wilson said that the issue of the transfer of Corporation Tax powers to the Stormont Executive will not feature in Chancellor George Osborne’s autumn statement to Parliament this week. Mr Osborne and David Cameron are still examining a final report on the issue given to the Prime Minister on his recent visit to the province to announce the G8 summit for Enniskillen next June.
The Assembly passed the final stage of the Air Passenger Duty Bill, which cuts the tax on long-haul flights, last month.