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Robinson and O'Dowd welcome cut in Air Passenger Duty (APD)

First Minister Rt. Hon Peter D. Robinson MLA and Minister exercising the functions of the deputy First Minister John O’Dowd MLA have welcomed today’s announcement by the Chancellor of a cut in Air Passenger Duty for direct long haul passengers from 1 November and of his intention to launch a process of devolving Air Passenger Duty (APD) to Northern Ireland.
Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Mr Robinson said: “The Chancellor’s announcement today represents the culmination of months of intense engagement undertaken by the deputy First Minister and I to prevent the loss of our Continental airlines service to Newark which would have had an hugely negative effect on our economy and business confidence here. HM Treasury as a result have now agreed to immediately reduce the duty for direct long haul flights from 1 November and to begin the process to devolve APD to the Assembly.

“Reducing APD on direct long haul flights will ensure that our Airports remain competitive. Direct airlinks play a vital role in our efforts to secure inward investment and to promote tourism. This announcement today will ensure that investing in Northern Ireland remains a an attractive business option. We would also hope that as a result of devolution we will be able to secure flights to new long haul destinations.

"We anticipate that we will bring proposals to our Executive Colleagues that would further reduce this tax to at least the level in the Republic of Ireland as soon as it is devolved."

Mr O’Dowd said: “Over recent months we have made a concerted effort to ensure that this Continental flight was retained and that APD was devolved. As part of this process we have met with Treasury and the Prime Minister, to put forward the case for devolving APD. Our campaign has been supported widely by public representatives in the United States and at home and we would very much like to thank them publicly now for their support.

“Direct long haul flights provide a vital and strategic access point for indigenous companies seeking to trade and also provide a very important gateway for investors seeking to establish or expand business operations here. Many of our inward investment companies have expressly stated that their presence here was only possible on the basis good air links. By devolving APD we will be able to offer greater opportunities for more companies to invest here, guaranteeing the continued growth of our economy. We would like to thank everyone involved for their hard work and effort in achieving this result.”

Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster said: "The Chancellor’s announcement is great news for the Northern Ireland economy. We rely more heavily upon air access than any other region of the UK and reducing the rate of APD for long haul flights sends a clear message to airlines that Northern Ireland is a viable option long haul destination which is good for business and tourism. I am hopeful that the reduction in APD for long haul flights will encourage airlines to consider opening new routes to Northern Ireland.‪‪"

Notes to editors:

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