Home Travel & Adventure Northern Ireland Airports Advocate for Duty-Free Return to Benefit Passengers Traveling to...

Northern Ireland Airports Advocate for Duty-Free Return to Benefit Passengers Traveling to and from the EU


Belfast International, Belfast City, as well as City of Derry airports, in Northern Ireland, together with the United Kingdom Travel Retail Forum (UKTRF), have called on the UK government as well as the European Commission to reinstate duty-free shopping for travellers on flights to the bloc.

The UK got out of the EU at the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020, and from January 2021, duty-free shopping from airports in Britain was extended to include destinations within the bloc, but the facility was not extended to airports in Northern Ireland.

According to local media reports, duty-free sales account for more than £900 million in GDP to Britain’s economy, supporting local economies and jobs, thus generating significant non-aeronautical revenue for airports.

“The travel retail industry is calling on the Westminster government and the EU Commission to work together to level the playing field and bring the rules on duty-free at Northern Irish airports in line with rules at their British and European counterparts,” UK Travel Retail Forum Chairperson Nigel Keal pointed out.

He considered that the return of duty-free post-Brexit has proven incredibly popular with consumers, with foreign retailers experiencing notable increases in sales of duty-free goods to departing UK passengers.

Keal said that this has been a crucial financial support as the aviation and travel retail sectors recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Preventing airports and businesses in Northern Ireland from accessing this revenue stream is unfair. It puts them at a competitive disadvantage to the rest of the UK and to the rest of Europe,” he pointed out.

Based on a statement from UKTRF, the inability of Northern Irish airports to sell duty-free to people travelling to either GB or the EU is already resulting in an estimated £5 million loss each year to regional Gross Value Added. Considering that the Northern Irish economy is comparatively smaller in size, this loss continues to be substantial.

According to a statement from the UKTRF, the agreement of the Windsor Framework in February this year marks a significant improvement in the EU-UK relationship. The same stressed that one of the key stated aims of the agreement was to protect Northern Ireland’s place within the UK.

Belfast International Airport Managing Director Graham Keddie considered it crucial that the UK Government and the EU move quickly to restore balance, equality, and fairness for Northern Ireland people as the airport is currently left with the worst of both worlds.

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Monte OZ
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