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Westminster Hall Debate: An Air Transport Strategy For Northern Ireland

20 June 2013

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee’s Report into An air transport strategy for Northern Ireland has been selected for a Westminster Hall debate on Thursday 27 June 2013

The debate will be held in Westminster Hall at 1.30 pm. Laurence Robertson MP, Chair of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, will open the debate, and Simon Burns MP, Minister of State for Transport, will respond on behalf of the Government.

Background Information:

The Committee held an inquiry in 2012looking into air transport for Northern Ireland. The inquiry looked specifically at:

  • the implications of current air links for Northern Ireland, specifically the  economy;
  • regional and international connectivity;
  • the lack of public transport links to, and between, Belfast International, Belfast City and City of Derry airports;
  • the implications for Northern Ireland of the Civil Aviation Bill;
  • the implications of the proposed takeover of BMI by IAG; and
  • tax policy.

The Committee published a Report on 30 November 2012, which concluded:

  • There are no realistic alternatives to air travel—especially for business travel—into and out of Northern Ireland.
  • Air Passenger Duty (APD) on short haul flights—which make up 98.5% of all flights to Northern Ireland—remains a major stumbling block to rebalancing the NI economy and must be scrapped on all flights to NI from Great Britain and on all flights from NI.
  • air connectivity—the air links to hub airports, particularly Heathrow—must be at least maintained at the current level, with the slots for flights to and from Northern Ireland at Heathrow “ring-fenced” and further routes actively sought.
  • the UK and the Irish Governments should co-operate fully in order to introduce a joint, shared visit visa for the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

A follow up evidence session was held with the Secretary of State for Transport on 16 January 2013.

The Government responded to the Committee’s Report on 1 February 2013, and is available as a Special Report (PDF 73KB) published by the Committee on 11 February 2013.

Further information

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