Up, up and...hold on (tight)

Good news for the Northern Ireland economy today when it was confirmed that Ryanair is to open a new hub at Belfast International Airport. 

Flights to London Gatwick will begin in March with 90 jobs created initially. 

Five additional routes – including to Leeds Bradford – were also due to be confirmed this morning. But as one has come to expect with Ryanair, it was never going to be that straightforward.  Instead, the company’s chief commercial officer, David O’Brien, took the opportunity for a pop at local ministers over Air Passenger Duty.

"We're not asking the Government for money, we're asking them to stop taking money from us," he protested.  "And if they don't we will make decisions on that basis."   

The Republic of Ireland Government has already scrapped APD with the country enjoying significantly increased visitor numbers as a result.

But an Assembly decision to cut APD in Northern Ireland would see the Treasury in London reducing the amount it gives Stormont to run public services.

Still, don’t expect Mr O’Brien and Ryanair’s ebullient boss Michael O’Leary to cease grandstanding any time soon.