Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Poor travel links at route of the problem

Having flown with Flybe for several years, I share Finance Minister Sammy Wilson's disappointment at its decision to drop direct flights from London Gatwick to Belfast City (News, May 24).

Alas, Northern Ireland is not alone in suffering from Flybe's insensitivities, as I understand in Scotland there is widespread concern that Flybe's decision to sell its take-off and landing slots at Gatwick may well affect services between Gatwick and Inverness.

At least the Scots have a greater alternative means of travelling between between London and Scotland, compared to the people of Northern Ireland. Accordingly, coming – as Flybe's decision does – shortly before the G8 summit, one would hope it would help focus governmental minds on Northern Ireland's geographical position on the periphery of the UK, the limited alternative means of travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the need to address the injustice of a possible reduction in the block grant, were the Assembly ever to agree to devolving air passenger duty on short-haul flights.

Now seems to be an appropriate time for pro-Union parties throughout Great Britain and Northern Ireland to give serious consideration to constructing a fixed rail/road-link between Scotland and Northern Ireland to safeguard construction jobs in the short-to-medium-term and, in the long-term, provide the public with an alternative means of travelling from/to Northern Ireland.

CHRISTOPHER LUKE

Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent

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