28/02/2012

Airport Tells Govt Not To 'Sell Us Short'

Belfast International Airport, one of Northern Ireland's main exports hubs, is making a case for a major upgrade of the A57 approach road from the M2 at Templepatrick.

In a Submission to the Draft Programme for Government and Economic Strategy, the airport says the documents are deficient in a number of areas and fail to grasp the significance of the aviation sector.

The airport did, however, welcome a range of commitments on Corporation Tax, increasing exports, Foreign Direct investor, tourism and the elimination of Air Passenger duty (APD) on long-haul flights.

In an overview, the airport stated: "Alongside a greater willingness to build, sell and export must be a clear recognition of the need to put in place the ‘building blocks’ that will deliver that economic revival.

"We do ourselves a disservice by ignoring the assets that exist, and are waiting to be properly exploited, and by a myopia that fails to take full account of new and emerging markets and the exciting opportunities they present to a region that can offer so much."

On roads, the airport said the failure to include proposals to dual the A57 from the M2 to the airport, and the A26 from the Moira Roundabout on the M1 was a source of great disappointment.

It added: "While such schemes are smaller in scale than projects such as the A5, they are nonetheless significant in perception terms for visitors and investors alike, in presenting a forward-thinking community where priority is given to drawing in international visitors and business partners and ensuring that they can seamlessly access tourism sites and investment locations once they arrive into the major local gateways.

"We view their absence as a missed opportunity and a major gap in the Draft PfG and the accompanying Draft Economic Strategy."

Turning to rail, the airport calls for a feasibility study to be undertaken into a light, rapid transit system to and from the airport.

Looking at the development of tourism, Belfast International called for a Strategy to open up markets to Canada, Germany and Scandinavia served directly from the airport. An all-out effort to attract new international carriers with the help of a properly resourced Air network Development Scheme was also urgently required.

The airport said: "The documents are deficient in a number of areas. They fail to grasp the significance of the aviation sector, the capacity that it has to unlock impressive economic potential and the contribution BIA, in particular, could make towards the development of a even more vibrant tourism sector."

(CD/GK)

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