Government confirms APD devolution to Scotland

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Abta and the Airport Operators Association (AOA) have responded to Government publication of plans to devolve Air Passenger Duty (APD) to Scotland this morning by demanding consistency across the UK.

The Secretary of State for Scotland issued extensive plans for the devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament today in a document entitled Scotland in the United Kingdom: An Enduring Settlement.

Its publication follows recommendations made by the Smith Commission on devolution set up following Scotland’s referendum on independence last September.

The document includes a draft devolution bill and proposes the next Government “take the clauses forward in a Scotland Bill during the first session of the new Parliament”.

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “Future reductions in APD planned by the Scottish Government will be good news for passengers flying from Scotland and for Scottish airports and travel businesses.”

But he pointed out: “This will come at a cost to the competitiveness of regional airports in the north of England and to consumers elsewhere in the country who will be paying some of the highest flight taxes in the world.”

Tanzer said: “A cut in one part of the UK is unacceptable and the most competitive rate should be matched for the benefit of the whole of UK plc and all UK consumers.

“Abta is calling for the UK Government to ensure rates of APD are consistent and competitive across the UK.

“We urge the UK Government to take the initiative now, review the impact of this damaging tax and cut it to bring it in line with our neighbours.”

AOA chief executive Darren Caplan noted “the long-stated ambition of the Scottish Government to reduce APD by 50% in the short-term, to be followed by eventual abolition” and said: “The proposals have far-reaching consequences for airports across the UK.

“It cannot be right that one part of the UK is able to levy a substantially reduced rate of APD compared to other areas, disadvantaging not only our airport members but companies and travellers too.

“A cut anywhere should be matched immediately by a cut everywhere.”

Caplan said: “We call upon the main UK political parties to work together to publish a plan, before the general election, setting out how this will be delivered.”

A Liverpool John Lennon airport spokesperson said: “If there are cuts to APD at airports in Scotland, then these need to be matched elsewhere across the UK.

“APD remains a barrier to airline growth in the UK, which the Scottish government recognises and we will continue to campaign for the reduction and abolition of APD for passengers in order to stimulate the market, particularly at airports such as Liverpool where low cost airlines are dominant and these charges can make up a much higher percentage of the air fare.”

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