Belfast Telegraph

Heathrow access 'critical for us'

By Margaret Canning

A business lobby group has called for better access for Northern Ireland at Heathrow.

CBI regional director Nigel Smyth told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster that aviation had a key role to play in developing the Northern Ireland economy.

He said: "Air connectivity is vital for our exporters, our tourist industry and to attract foreign direct investment."

Mr Smyth told the committee's inquiry into air transport strategy that links to Heathrow must be increased as the hub faced conflicting priorities.

"With the UK's only international hub airport, Heathrow, operating at 99% capacity there will be increasing tensions between the demands for increasing international routes and maintaining good regional access.

"Unless capacity is increased in the short/medium-term there is an increasing risk that Northern Ireland's connectivity with this global hub will be put at risk."

Meanwhile, a report by the assembly's finance and personnel committee said the power to set duty on short-haul flights from Northern Ireland should be devolved.

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