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UK Government needs to step in with rescue package for airports, says Blair

The UK Government needs to step in with a rescue package for local airports, Alliance MLA John Blair has said.

Mr Blair was speaking after Belfast International Airport told staff to expect voluntary redundancies, after management warned it did not see air travel ‘returning to pre-COVID-19 levels for a few years’. It is estimated up to 45 employees would be lost out of the workforce of 195.

“First and foremost, my thoughts are with those staff members who will be made redundant. I hope they receive every bit of support they are entitled to to enable them to re-enter the workforce as soon as possible,” said the South Antrim MLA.

“Airports serve a vital function in connecting our lives regionally and internationally, both in terms of the rest of the UK and also across the world. This crisis has been devastating for everyone but particularly the local aviation industry. It is essential for the economy airports are able to increase their capacity again quickly as soon as it is safe to do so.

“A financial support package from the Executive and UK Government for Belfast City Airport and City of Derry Airport has helped them. It’s now time the Government steps in and helps the industry further mitigate against the effects of this pandemic by taking a number of actions, including scrapping domestic air passenger duty, which disproportionately impacts Northern Ireland and establishing additional key routes from Northern Ireland to recognise the importance of the region.

“These measures would support the local economy, while helping prevent further job losses at the International Airport, something which would have a major negative impact, across South Antrim and beyond.”