Why it's now cheaper to fly to New York from Northern Ireland

Rebecca Rutt
by Lovemoney Staff Rebecca Rutt on 09 January 2013  |  Comments 5 comments

The Northern Ireland Assembly has scrapped a passenger tax on long haul flights from the province.

Why it's now cheaper to fly to New York from Northern Ireland

Flying directly from Belfast to New York is now cheaper, after Air Passenger Duty (APD) on long haul flights was scrapped by the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Previously, passengers travelling this route were required to pay an additional £60 for an economy class ticket and £120 for business class. These charges were lowered to £12 and £24 respectively in November but have now been scrapped altogether.

Right now the only route affected is between Belfast and New York, but if more are introduced they too will be exempt from the tax.

Cheaper flights to New York

The decision to scrap APD on long haul flights has been made to both boost the local economy and keep the New York fights operating out of Belfast.

Before, instead of travelling Belfast-New York or vice versa, most people would fly to Dublin, where the Irish equivalent of APD is just €3. Continental Airline, which runs the Belfast flights, threatened to switch to Dublin as it said the route was costing it too much as it was absorbing the cost of the APD.

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee recommended that APD be banned on all long haul flights out of Belfast. The Assembly, which since devolution has the power to rule on long haul APD, duly scrapped it.

Mark Tanzer, CEO of travel association ABTA, wants more action on the tax: “APD remains a major issue for Northern Ireland businesses who have to compete directly with departures from across the border as well as unfairly penalising people in Northern Ireland who may need air travel to visit families.

"We recognize the pressures on HM Treasury but APD is not the answer to reducing the deficit and we strongly encourage the Government to urgently commission a review into the economic impacts this tax is having on the whole of the UK.”

APD in the rest of the UK

APD is a tax levied on flights from UK airports. Passengers pay this for each flight they take. The price of the tax depends on the length of the journey and the class of the ticket bought.

But in the UK we have one of the highest rates of APD in the world and many companies, such as ABTA, are calling for it to be reduced.

However, it looks unlikely anything more will happen soon as in the Autumn Statement George Osborne announced a rise of 2.5% in APD which will come into force on 1st April next year.

Do you think the Government should be reducing APD across the UK? Let me know in the comment box below.

Note: an earlier version of this article erroneously claimed that the abolition of long haul APD in Northern Ireland meant that flights from Belfast to New York were cheaper than from any other UK airport. We accept that this is not exclusively the case and we apologise for any confusion caused.

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Comments (5)

  • yocoxy
    Love rating 152
    yocoxy said

    Rebecca, are you still confident that Belfast is the cheapest place from which to fly to New York from the UK?

    I realise that the author doesn't typically write the headline but you do assert this in your first sentence. I don't see any evidence for this claim or acknowledgement that this was an error based on your analysis of APD.

    I think one of those updates would demonstrate good journalistic practice.

    Report on 09 January 2013  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • meldrewreborn
    Love rating 70
    meldrewreborn said

    The Article says its now cheaper to fly from Belfast to New York. It doesn't spell out that what it is cheaper than. Clearly it means than it was before the APD was reduced then scrapped. It doesn't mean that its the cheapest place to fly from within the UK - although some might have interpreted it that way.

    The most recent reduction is only £12 and I suspect you'd find it difficult to prove that it had been accurately reflected in market prices - but it can only help to preserve the route. I wonder though whether it affects spending by the NI Government? If so the locals (few of whom will fly to New York each year) might not be best pleased, but if it doesn't affect the NI spending then the UK treasury will be livid!

    Report on 10 January 2013  |  Love thisLove  0 loves

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