From next year passengers taking direct long-haul flights from Belfast airport will no longer have to pay Air Passenger Duty, following the partial devolution of powers to the Northern Ireland Executive.
Last year the Department for Transport (DfT) cut the APD rates paid on long-haul flights out of Northern Ireland to the same level as short-haul services, and also announced plans to devolve powers on the setting of long-haul APD charges from Westminster to the Northern Ireland Executive (see online news September 27, 2011).
With this process now completed the Northern Ireland Assembly has now voted to scrap APD on long-haul flights all together, with the changes due to take effect from January.
Note that the changes will not affect APD rates on short-haul service from Northern Ireland, as these continue to be set by Westminster.
The DfT made the decision to cut rates last year in order to address competition for services from Dublin, where passengers pay a charge of just €3 in Air Travel Tax (ATT) for flights departing from Dublin.
United Airlines (previously operating as Continental prior to the merger of the two airlines) currently operates long-haul services from Belfast to New York.
Report by Mark Caswell