Duty-free changes ‘damage’ NI airports, airport chief warns


Departures hall at Belfast International AirportImage copyright
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Belfast International Airport’s Managing Director Graham Keddie said the move will “damage Northern Ireland’s connectivity”.

Planned changes to duty-free allowances will “damage” Northern Ireland airports, the managing director of Belfast International Airport has said.

The government is planning to allow duty free sales between Britain and the European Union to continue.

The amount that passengers can bring back from EU and non-EU countries will also be “significantly increased”.

However, at present, these rules will not apply to Northern Ireland and could result in lost revenue.

Belfast International Airport’s Managing Director Graham Keddie said the move will “damage Northern Ireland’s connectivity”.

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The planned changes from January 2021, after the Brexit transition period, will apply to alcohol and tobacco sales

The changes from January 2021, after the Brexit transition period, will apply to alcohol and tobacco sales at international train stations, aboard ships, trains and planes.

The government said the amount that passengers can bring back with them from non-EU Countries will be significantly increased and extended to EU countries.

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This means that passengers coming to Britain will be able to bring back, for example, three crates of beer, two cases of still wine and one case of sparkling wine without paying UK duties.

‘Another nail in the coffin’

The move will make Northern Ireland “even more uncompetitive” with the Republic of Ireland, Graham Keddie said.

“It does make a difference because in the old days, before the year 2000, people used the ferries and also flights into the Republic to pick up duty free.

“At a time when the aviation industry is in dire straits because of a lack of confidence and quarantine rules this seems crazy to put another nail in our coffin.”

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Graham Keddie said the move could also make NI airports “less attractive” to airlines

Mr Keddie said the move will also “make us less attractive to airlines”.

“The airlines will be looking at this as they sell duty free on their flights and it’s another way to generate revenue.”

In a statement, the government said it continues to work with the joint committee on the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

“The government is committed to providing guidance on how the protocol will work, including for duty-free and tax-free goods ahead of the end of the transition period.”

The government is also ending tax-free sales in airports of goods such as electronics and clothing for passengers travelling to non-EU countries.

This follows concerns that the tax-concession is not always passed on to consumers in the airport.



BBC News