Air travel is fundamental to family and economic life in Northern Ireland. To facilitate the rebalancing of the economy it is vital the air links to Great Britain, mainland Europe and the rest of the world are robust. The Committee identified in this report several hurdles to overcome. Air Passenger Duty (APD)-despite the APD on direct long-haul flights being reduced to zero, this does not assist the 98.5 per cent of passengers who travel from NI airports on short haul flights. Ways to reduce or, preferably, abolish APD on all flights into NI from GB and on all direct flights from Northern Ireland to any destination should be explored.Connectivity-air links to hub airports, particularly Heathrow, must be, at least, maintained at the current level, and further routes should be actively sought. Airports Commission review-the review is being carried out by the Airports Commission into options to maintain the UK's status as an international hub for aviation. As this report is not due until 2015 and the delay as to the future airport configuration and capacity in the South East of England is causing concern among the business community in Northern Ireland. The Committee urged the Government to expedite the review and its decision, as soon as possible given its importance to Northern Ireland's international connectivity. Internal access to Northern Ireland's airports-road and rail links to all three of NI'sairports must be improved. Visas-there should be introduced between the UK and Irish Government, a shared visit visa for the UK and the Republic of Ireland, as the current cost of two visas deters both business and leisure travellers from visiting both jurisdictions on a single visit.Actually, making a call on something like that is one of the key issues around making a strategic decision. ... There is an issue about how politicians-and all of us in civic life-engage the public in a mature debate about some of those issues, including ... managing to generate on Northern Ireland then we would be in a far better place than we currently are with the ping pong we have about UK infrastructure.
|Title||:||An Air Transport Strategy for Northern Ireland|
|Author||:||Great Britain: Parliament: House of Commons: Northern Ireland Affairs Committee|
|Publisher||:||The Stationery Office - 2012-11-30|