George Osborne’s decision to reduce air passenger duty (APD) on long haul routes from Northern Ireland has been welcomed by Newcastle Airport.
The chancellor made the decision to reduce APD from £60 to £12 per person on the Continental Airlines daily route from New York to Belfast, after concerns that the airline would be forced to cease the service, which is the only transatlantic link from the airport.
Planning and corporate affairs director at Newcastle Airport Graeme Mason now hopes that the government will think seriously about implementing the same protective measures in the North East.
He commented: “We have said before that APD should be abolished or reduced significantly across the whole country.
“A much fairer and probably legal, approach would be to give all regional airports a stimulus by varying the rate of APD between congested and non-congested airports, thereby protecting the interests of all disadvantaged regions,”
Graeme also believes that any differentiation based on geographical criteria would be illegal and unfair under EU State Regulations.
Newcastle airport lobbied the government for radical changes to aviation tax in 2011 to outline how the devolution of APD to administrations would affect the North East, with many business leaders and airlines voicing their support for the proposals.
James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North East Chamber (NECC), said: “If the announcement is the sign of a more flexible approach, and recognition APD can be damaging to some airports, then we welcome it.
“If, however, it is a sign that control of rates of APD is to be devolved to Wales and Scotland then we see this as truly worrying and inequitable.”