easyjet has announced that the airline has appeared before the House of Commons Northern Ireland affairs committee to highlight its commitment to serve the region, and clarify its stand on the Airport Passenger Duty tax.
The airline’s UK director, Paul Simmons, at the session with the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, said, ‘easyJet started its Belfast operation on 18 Sept 1998; we have a local base located at Belfast International Airport and we directly employ over 230 local people.
Northern Ireland has seen several airlines come and go from Belfast, but easyJet’s consistence in the Northern Ireland market and experience of carrying over 34 million passengers since its launch in the region makes it well placed to give evidence on matters affecting local people and the local economy in terms of air transport.
Airport Passenger Duty (APD) however, remains one of the most significant barriers to growth in Northern Ireland, with local people being disadvantaged when they fly to UK destinations such as London, Manchester and Scotland as they are hit twice with tax.
This is an unfair tax overall, but it’s especially unfair for the people of Northern Ireland. And if this tax is increased, it will have a serious impact on tourism.
easyjet currently has a 46% market share in Northern Ireland, with Aer Lingus holding 8% and British Airways 7%. The company flies to 23 international destinations from Belfast International Airport. On Monday the carrier struck a deal with parliamentarians to provide budget travel for MPs and peers, and hence cut expenditures that would go against the taxpayer.
Simmons added, ‘Like British Airways, Ryanair and Virgin Atlantic, we continue to call on the Government to publish an independent study of the economic effects of APD.’