November 2022, Virtual
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
Air Passenger Duty is preventing Northern Ireland from gaining significant investment and is damaging its economy, according to IAG chief executive Willie Walsh.
Walsh who is a longstanding critic of the tax also said the tax is harming airport growth.
“I speak to airline CEOs around the world and when I ask them about investing in Northern Ireland or starting new routes to Northern Ireland they’re not interested because of the tax issue,” he said.
Walsh was speaking at the opening of a refurbished British Airways lounge at George Best Belfast City Airport.
The Republic of Ireland is abolishing the APD on all of its routes from April. In NI it has only scrapped the tax on long-haul routes but a £13 duty per passenger per flight on short-haul destinations remains.
Walsh said: “You look at the opportunities they have from Belfast and look at the number of carriers flying in to Dublin and you have to ask the question why.”
Also speaking at Belfast City Airport was NI enterprise minister, Arlene Foster, who told the BBC the government is in discussions with BA about the cost difference between NI and Republic of Ireland.
“They understand Dublin is in their European pricing structure but [NI] is of course in the UK pricing structure,” she said.
“Therefore there is that differential and I have already had conversations with British Airways about that price differential and they have promised they will look at the issue.”