Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Southern comforts make Dublin Airport easier for passengers than Belfast

The odds are stacked against Belfast International Airport (BIA). Look what it's up against; a new £1bn terminal, pre-clearance facilities for US-bound passengers, excellent road access – and choice.

Dublin Airport has been stealing a march on its Belfast counterpart for years; and that's no surprise when you consider the help they've got from the Republic's government.

It's a no-brainer; the Dail knows the country needs an accessible, prosperous airport at its point of entry and that's why there's no air tax, and why there are always financial incentives for carriers wishing to base themselves in Dublin.

That isn't enough, though. The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) wants to be the only long-haul hub on this island.

So, while we moan about being disadvantaged geographically and belonging to the most punitive fiscal regime for air services, Dublin enjoys being part of the loosest jurisdiction in Europe with regard to airlines.

BIA's business development director Uel Hoey said: "Tax is crucifying us. Consider the burden that's placed on GB air routes, which is almost 80% of what we have here, being taxed in two directions. In almost every case, the tax is higher than the air fare..."

Stormont took the financial hit when it devolved long-haul air passenger duty in 2012, but our local politicians can't seem to decide whether or not to assume fiscal responsibility for short-haul flights too.

Meanwhile, there are three million potential air passengers living on the Belfast-Dublin corridor and an overwhelming majority of them clearly prefer the airport 100 miles down the M1. It isn't rocket science.

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