Scrap air tax to add 40,000 Northern Ireland jobs: report
Getting rid of air passenger duty (APD) in Northern Ireland could create almost 40,000 jobs over the next 30 years, Belfast International Airport has claimed.
The jobs would generate additional tax revenues of £376m, a new report for the airport suggested.
It says abolishing the levy would lead to 36 million additional passengers between 2019 and 2050.
While the short-term impact until 2025 would see the number of passengers using airports here rise by 5.7m to 64.1m.
Increased visitor spend would amount to £1.2bn between 2019 and 2050, according to the new study.
These are the headline findings in the independent report by international engineering and infrastructure consultants Mott MacDonald.
It will form the core of a detailed submission on APD to be made to the Government by Belfast International.
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The report authors employed HM Treasury economic modelling to conduct the study.
They concluded that Northern Ireland's land border with an EU member state made it a unique UK region where policies in the neighbouring jurisdiction had a significant and damaging effect on the region.
They said the disadvantage stemmed from the continued application of APD - £26 on a return short-haul flight - while the equivalent air tax was abolished in 2014 by Leo Varadkar, then the Republic's Transport and Tourism minister.
The effect of this disparity imposes significant lost private investment opportunities and diverts hundreds of aviation-related and tourism sector jobs from Northern Ireland to south of the border, they said.
Graham Keddie, managing director, Belfast International Airport, said: "The Government has a wonderful opportunity to eliminate a palpable disadvantage and, at the same time, deliver a major economic boost.
Ministers should not waste this opportunity. I would urge the Government to consider the damage that APD inflicts on Northern Ireland and conclude that the time is right to make a change for the better."