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Council's Union Connectivity Group welcomes calls for Air Tax Consultation

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Council's Union Connectivity Group welcomes calls for Air Tax Consultation

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Union Connectivity Review Working Group has welcomed calls for the reform of Air Passenger Duty (APD).

APD is a tax that air passengers pay, dependent on their travel destination and travel class. It does not apply on long haul flights from Northern Ireland but does on short haul flights.

Councillor Peter Johnston explained that Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has proactively contributed to HM Treasury’s ‘Aviation Tax Reform Consultation’, and said Council’s Union Connectivity Working Group has prioritised APD as a key issue when strengthening links across the UK.

“Connectivity within the United Kingdom is particularly important to Northern Ireland and links between the regions are of the utmost economic importance,” he said.

“Council is pleased that this consultation allows for the review on aviation tax reform and sets out the government’s current approach to taxing the aviation sector, via APD.

“We welcome the initial policy decision that in order to support connectivity across the UK following our departure from the EU, the rate of APD on domestic flights must be reduced.”

Councillor Andrew Wilson, said: “Council agrees with the government’s initial policy position that the introduction of a new domestic banding would be the most appropriate approach to reducing the domestic rate of APD, instead of reintroducing a return leg exemption. This would ensure that all domestic flights benefited from a lower rate of APD, including single leg journeys.”

Alderman Billy Ashe MBE said: “Continued growth in our tourism industry necessitates convenient, direct and non-stop flights, particularly as there is a direct correlation between access and growth in visitor numbers.

“Strong domestic air connectivity will ensure that all parts of the UK are able to access and benefit from the UK’s global connectivity opportunities, helping drive sustainable growth.”

Councillor Timothy Gaston said: “We strongly believe that the provision of high-quality connections will support economic development and ‘levelling-up’ across the UK.

“Air connectivity has an important role to play in this and will provide a number of benefits to Northern Ireland, such as bringing tourism directly to many parts of the country, such as Mid and East Antrim.”

Mid and East Antrim’s Union Connectivity Review Working Group will feed into a wider review that aims to help bolster economic, social and cultural relations across the UK.

The Union Connectivity group consists of Councillor Johnston, Councillor Wilson, Alderman Ashe and Councillor Gaston. Key to its work is Mid and East Antrim's vital input into the Government's current UK Connectivity Review.

At its previous meeting, Members agreed a robust and comprehensive action plan, setting out four key themes: Engagement, the East-West Economic Corridor, Air Passenger Duty and the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Key to the group's work is Mid and East Antrim's role within the Government's current UK Connectivity Review.

The Review, led by Sir Peter Hendy, is examining how best to improve road, rail, air and sea links between all four UK regions and to bring forward funding to accelerate infrastructure projects. Back in January, Elected Members approved Council’s response to a call for evidence.

The final Union Connectivity report will be submitted to the UK Government this summer highlighting a number of recommendations for future investment in transport between the nations of the UK.

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