Scottish government plans to cut and eventually scrap Air Passenger Duty have been backed by a leading think tank.

Reform Scotland said the move would boost jobs, productivity and tourism as well as making travel cheaper for Scots.

It also highlighted the fact that only four other EU countries now have a similar tax, the BBC reported.

Environmental groups have criticised the proposals, which they say will lead to an increase in greenhouse gasses.

The Scottish Greens said cutting APD was a “bizarre priority”, while Labour said it would not make Scotland “greener or fairer”.

APD is charged on all passenger flights from UK airports, with the rate of tax varying according to where the passenger is going, and the class of travel, starting at about £13 for short-haul flights to Europe. It brings in about £3bn a year for the UK government.

The Scottish government wants to use new powers being devolved to Holyrood to reduce APD from Scottish airports by 50% from April 2018 before eventually abolishing the tax altogether.

It believes the move will help to boost Scotland’s international connectivity and contribute to sustainable growth, and has pledged to give “due consideration” to environmental issues.

A consultation on the proposals received a mixed response when it closed last month.

However, Reform Scotland said that the loss of income from the move could be at least matched by increases in revenue from other sources such as job and productivity growth and tourism expenditure.

It said the proposals had been backed by the business community due to the “positive impact it would have on economic growth”.

And the group added that the tourism sector believed it would lower costs for Scottish families going on holiday, as well as attracting more visitors to Scotland.

“Reform Scotland believes that the Scottish government should proceed with its plans to cut the tax,” it said.

“We welcome the Scottish Conservatives’ decision to reverse their position and encourage other opposition [arties to also reconsider their positions and act in the best interests of our economy and our people.

“If they fail to do so it will be up to them to justify why they oppose a measure which a wide range of voices argue will help promote economic growth and reduce the cost of Scottish families gong on holiday.”