Call for urgent talks on reducing Air Passenger Duty in Northern Ireland

Lord Rogan has called for urgent discussions aimed at reducing Air Passenger Duty (APD) rates in Northern Ireland.

The Ulster Unionist peer was speaking after Ryanair announced it was ceasing flights at both Belfast airports this winter largely because of APD.

In a statement, Lord Rogan said: “APD has been damaging to Northern Ireland since it was introduced by the then Conservative Government in 1994 purely as a money-making exercise for the Treasury.

“However, added to the problems associated with Covid, I fear that its continuation at current levels is placing the future of what’s left of the Province’s aviation sector at grave risk.

“Members of Parliament and peers from all of the local parties have lobbied successive UK Governments on this issue with little progress made.

“Concessions were floated as part of the DUP’s backroom deal to keep Theresa May’s Government in power in 2017 and a so-called ‘technical working group’ was set up to examine what may be possible.

“Boris Johnson’s arrival in Downing Street two years later and his disinterest in all things Northern Ireland clearly put an end to these efforts.

“I will be tabling a series of Written Questions when Parliament returns in a few days’ time to try to find out what progress – if any – these talks made.

“In the meantime, I believe that new discussions must be urgently convened between UK Government Ministers and representatives of Northern Ireland political parties, the local aviation industry and business leaders with a view to reducing APD rates.

“Boris Johnson’s Government has an unfortunate reputation for choosing to recognise a problem only when it is too late to do anything about it.

“This must not be the case in relation to APD in Northern Ireland because we are rapidly running out of viable carriers.”