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£3m cost of air tax cuts is worth it: minister

Reducing Air Passenger Duty (APD) in Northern Ireland will cost £3m, the Finance Minister has said.

It is a price worth paying to preserve the link with North America and attract investment, Sammy Wilson told the Assembly.

Chancellor George Osborne has confirmed his decision to cut the levy and devolve its control to the Stormont Executive.

Mr Wilson said: “The whole idea is that we believe this was a cost worth paying. To have the transatlantic link was important.”

The move followed warnings that Northern Ireland's failure to match the lower duty rate of the Republic could make long-haul flights from Belfast uneconomical.

The change will come into force on November 1, when APD will fall to £12 per passenger in economy and £24 for business and first-class passengers. Continental Airlines, which operates the flights, said the existing rate added £60 to fares to the US from Belfast International.

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