Ulster Unionists call for action to improve access to Belfast International Airport

Ulster Unionist MLA Steve Aiken OBE has called for action to ensure that access is improved to Northern Ireland’s major international gateway to enable it to compete with Dublin airport and help benefit Northern Ireland plc.  

Steve Aiken said:

“As a South Antrim MLA I welcome today’s Assembly debate which focussed on concern at the lack of competitiveness and availability of rail services between Belfast city centre and the International Airport.

“Our local MP Danny Kinahan and the local councillors representing the Airport electoral area Paul Michael and Mervyn Rea have all played key roles in consistently promoting the importance of the International Airport to both South Antrim in particular and Northern Ireland plc in general.

“It is a fact that our major international gateway has to compete on a very uneven playing field with the fully state aided and state supported edifice that is Dublin Airport.

“The Ulster Unionist Party is calling for a much wider discussion on improving access and propose action in three key areas.

“Firstly we would welcome an improved rail system across South Antrim, and connecting the Airport should also include facilitating a major park and ride facility at Crumlin, and a railway station at Ballymartin Park & Ride should be progressed with urgency.  

“Secondly, as a matter of priority, we want to see a dual carriageway link to the Airport from the M2 to be built first, and any additional infrastructure funding made available in the Chancellor’s Autumn statement should be fast tracked to its provision – indeed the Executive could significantly push the success of this programme by working in close co-operation with Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council to fast-track planning for such a link.

“Thirdly Air Passenger Duty has to be abolished. We note that the Scottish Government is already planning to reduce Scottish APD and we should make this happen in Northern Ireland as soon as possible.

“The International airport is of key strategic importance to Northern Ireland and there is no excuse for not doing everything in our power to help it remain competitive.”

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