Belfast AirportPaul Faith/PA Wire

Flying directly from Belfast to New York is now cheaper than from anywhere else in the UK, as air passenger duty (APD) tax has now been scrapped in Northern Ireland.

This means travellers won't have to pay the APD on any direct long-haul flights.


Before these changes came into force passengers travelling this route were required to pay an additional £65 for an economy-class ticket and £130 for business class.

Right now the only flight affected is between Belfast and New York, but when more are introduced they will also be exempt from the tax.

Cheap flights to New York

While the move to scrap APD won't have a dramatic effect on the cost of flights, it's likely to encourage more people to fly from Belfast.

However, if you don't live in Northern Ireland the price of getting to the country may negate the benefit of a cheaper flight.

Therefore you need to travel to Belfast on a journey which costs less than the rate of APD - £65 or £130 depending on how you are travelling.

Budget airlines fly from all major UK destinations to Belfast and are generally priced around £40 return, depending on when you fly. Therefore you could save yourself some money if you're prepared to do a little bit of work beforehand and if you've got the time to travel to Belfast.

APD in Northern Ireland

APD has been dumped because the tourist industry in Northern Ireland is struggling. Instead of travelling from New York to Belfast, most people will go to Dublin where the APD is just €3.
The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee recommended that APD be banned on all flights out of Belfast.

Mark Tanzer, CEO of travel association ABTA, echoes this sentiment. He said: "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."

United Airlines, which operates flights between Belfast and New York, has also welcomed the change.

Bob Schumacher, Managing Director of Sales in the UK and Ireland for United, said: "APD is a regressive tax that penalises UK business and leisure customers alike."

APD in 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.