SPAA president urges Scots to lobby MPs over Air Passenger Duty pledge

The Scottish public needs to lobby their MPs if Air Passenger Duty (APD) is to be reduced in the near future.

Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association President Ken McLeod urged customers to play their part in ensuring Holyrood fulfilled its promise to replace APD with a reduced Air Departure Tax, before abolishing the levy altogether at a later date.

Earlier this year, the Scottish government said it would not reduce APD in April 2019 because it would compromise devolved powers and damage the Highlands economy.

The Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) indicate that APD is expected to raise around £1.6 billion by 2023/24.

McLeod said: “The only way that we can change this is by lobbying the local MPs, but the fact of the matter is that nobody can be bothered writing to their MPs.

“You can ignore the fact that the customers are not complaining about APD and the airlines are not doing as much as they should be doing.”

Action would not be taken by the Scottish government unless there was a surge of customers challenging APD, added McLeod.

“There is no chance of it changing anytime soon unless there is upsurge in customers challenging it,” he said, adding: “I do not think that the customers are aware that APD is in the fare.”

Despite Edinburgh Airport reporting a record of more than 1.3m passengers in September – a rise of 5.8% year-on-year, airport chief executive Gordon Dewar recently called for APD to be cut.

“We can’t escape the fact that Scotland is well below European average growth,” Dewar said last month.

McLeod said Edinburgh was “a victim of its own success” and encouraged both the airport and airlines to find a way to put on flights throughout the year.

“It is fighting hard to get the changes in place to continue the expansion,” McLeod said. “Delta [Air Lines] has just announced a new direct flight from Edinburgh to Boston next year.

“It is the ability to promote, sell and keep them on that route. The challenge is how do airlines stay on the route year round. Scotland is a six-month summer destination.”

McLeod highlighted the “huge progress” Emirates had made by having three daily flights 12 months of the year from Edinburgh.

“Emirates has proven you can do it,” he said.

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