16th March 2000


<p>The Air Passenger Duty is an unfair tax on Northern Ireland travellers and the Government should drop plans to increase it, says the General Consumer Council, the passenger’s watchdog.</p>

Joan Whiteside, Chairman of the Council said: “The Chancellor of the Exchequer is thought likely to increase the tax from £10 to £20 for a domestic return flight.” “Northern Ireland is geographically isolated, being cut off from the rest of the UK and continental Europe by the Irish Sea. People here are highly dependent on flying which is a relatively expensive means of travel.” “The Chancellor should not put up the cost of air travel in the UK. Indeed Northern Ireland passengers should have an exemption from having to pay this tax in the same way as people flying on routes from the Scottish Highlands and Islands.” Note to Editors At present the Air Passenger Duty is £10 on flights in the EU and £20 on flights elsewhere. The Chancellor is expected to alter the regime in his budget on Tuesday 21 March. For further information please contact Lillian Buchanan (028) 9067 2488