T7. Mr Girvan asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, in light of Belfast International Airport’s recent job announcements, what measures he has taken to ensure that this region gets some help with air passenger duty (APD), given that we are competing with Dublin — 100 miles down the road — which offers 0% APD, and the Scottish islands, which have had some flexibility, albeit that we are tied to the UK system, has he lobbied for the abolition of APD. (AQT 3477/11-16)
Yes. First, I congratulate Graham Keddie and his marvellous team for the success that they have had, not just in job creation but in increased passenger numbers. I believe that the UK as a whole should address air passenger duty, and we lobbied very strongly for that to happen. That does not take away from the fact that it should happen on a UK-wide basis to drive tourism in Northern Ireland. I will continue to work with all our airports; I have been to City of Derry Airport and I have seen the success of Belfast City Airport in increased passenger numbers and the boost to the economy. There is a really good news story in the Member's constituency, and I will look at every avenue that I have, not just in lobbying the UK on air passenger duty but seeing what we can do around air route development funds and marketing strategies that could lead to continued further success.