City of Derry Airport (CoDA) has branded a controversial travel tax as “bad for Northern Ireland”.
According to an airport spokesperson, Air Passenger Duty (APD) plays a “significant role” in the North’s “extremely challenging” aviation industry.
At present, more than 80% of all flights to and from Northern Ireland are to airports in Britain. This means that Derry passengers pay APD on both legs of their journey.
At the current rate, passengers are charged £26 in tax on a return ticket to anywhere in Britain from Northern Ireland.
A CoDA spokesperson said: “Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that has a land border with another EU state that has a different taxation system. From April 1, 2014 Ireland’s equivalent to APD was abolished. This created a competitive price differential that is encouraging passengers in ever greater numbers to fly from airports south of the border.
“The other effect of this tax differential is that airlines are choosing to put new flights into countries where there is no travel taxation. This makes it even more difficult to develop new routes to and from Northern Ireland.
“APD is bad for Northern Ireland. It is unfair and is detrimental to growth of the Northern Ireland economy. It is imperative that our politicians persuade the Exchequer in London to reduce or remove this tax in order to facilitate the connectivity Northern Ireland needs for business, leisure and tourism.”
The CoDA spokesperson added that the government has recently announced a Regional Air Connectivity fund to “kick start” new routes from small regional airports including CoDA.
“It is hoped that CoDA will be successful in its application for funding and that new routes might start during the year,” the spoksperson added.
Meanwhile, new figures reveal that passenger numbers at Derry Airport dropped during 2014.
Figures published by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) show that CoDA saw a 9% fall in its passenger numbers to 350,257.
Regional & City Airport’s Contracts Director, Clive Coleman, said that, while the latest passenger figures were disappointing, CoDA was committed to growing future passenger numbers in 2015.