Lack of Heathrow capacity will damage Northern Ireland's air connectivity and competitiveness
The CBI Northern Ireland Director, Nigel Smyth, gave evidence at Westminster today to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee's inquiry into an air transport strategy for Northern Ireland.
He said: " Aviation plays a key role in supporting the development of the Northern Ireland economy. Air connectivity is vital for our exporters, our tourist industry and to attract Foreign Direct Investment. To achieve the Programme for Government targets we need to improve our air connectivity."
"With the UK's only international hub airport, Heathrow, operating at 99% capacity there will be increasing tensions between the demands for increasing international routes and maintaining good regional access. Unless capacity is increased in the short/medium term there is an increasing risk that Northern Ireland's connectivity with this global hub will be put at risk."
Mr Smyth added "The CBI's other key concern is the increasing rate of Air Passenger Duty - the UK government must restrain future increases, otherwise there will be increasing pressure for considering devolving all APD to the Northern Ireland Assembly."
Note to Editors
Mr Smyth will be available for interview after 3.30pm (call 077 1350 5806).
A decision has already been taken to devolve Band B (long distance international flights) APD to the NI Assembly.