Airline passengers in Northern Ireland flying long distance from Belfast Airport will be spared having to pay Air Passenger Duty (APD) next year.
The Northern Ireland Assembly has recently voted to remove APD on long-haul flights from January 2013, while the charges will still be levied on short distance flights.
From next year, passengers taking direct long-haul flights from Belfast airport will no longer have to pay, following the partial devolution of powers to the Northern Ireland Executive.
Last year, the Department for Transport in the UK lowered the APD rates on long-haul flights from Northern Ireland to the same level as short-haul flights, and the new move is expected to encourage international tourists to visit the country.
The rate cut is also in response to competition from the Republic of Ireland, where APD for short distance flights departing from Dublin Airport is currently just €3.
The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), a UK-based travel agents association, has earlier called for the international community to extend support against the increase in the UK’s Air Passenger Duty.
The UK government is currently charging APD for passengers flying out of the UK on an aircraft that has an authorised take-off weight of more than ten tonnes, or twenty seats for passengers. Passengers must pay the tax twice on a return journey, adding around an additional £26 to a return fare.
APD was introduced in 1994, and the annual revenue generated by the tax has increased by 250 percent since its introduction. In 2012, the tax will be providing £2.6bn to the Treasury. In a recent survey conducted by ABTA, forty percent of UK travellers said that high air taxes have put them off flying, an opinion that is expected to negatively affect leisure air travel in UK.