By a Newsnet reporter
Scottish MPs must stand up for Scotland and reject the rise in Air Passenger Duty, the SNP has said.
Speaking ahead of this week’s Finance Bill debate, in which the SNP will vote to scrap the proposed APD hike, SNP Transport Spokesperson Angus MacNeil said that increasing the cost for airlines to fly to Scottish airports is “the last thing they need”.
The Coalition government proposals will add £94 to the price of a long-haul economy flight of more than 6,000 miles, and £188 to business and first class tickets. A family of four holidaying in America will have to pay about £275 in air passenger duty, up from around £260 now. The Treasury believes that the tax rise will raise £2.9 billion in revenue in 2013-14, and £3 billion in 2014-15.
In a report published last month, the World Economic Forum ranked the UK as 134th out of 138 countries in terms of the competitiveness of its airport taxes and aviation taxes. Only Senegal, Ivory Coast, Mali and Chad rank more poorly. In terms of taxes on air tickets and airport charges, the report ranked the UK second last, only Chad is more expensive.
Bosses of Scotland’s three main airports – Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen – recently warned that they could lose as many as two million customers over the next three years as a result of the proposed hike in APD.
Speaking to STV news last month, Sarah Campbell, communications manager for Aberdeen International Airport, said that “around two million passengers in Scotland could be lost by 2016”.
“This has an effect on tourism, on employment, on a whole range of issues. If the Government scrapped APD, it would have a huge boost to passengers and the whole industry. At least we would ask that the Treasury conducts its own study into the benefits.”
The SNP will also move an amendment to have APD devolved, in line with the policy in Northern Ireland.
Commenting, Mr MacNeil said:
“The budget hike in Air Passenger Duty (APD) is extremely bad news for Scotland’s airports and the wider economy, at a time when communities are struggling to get any kind of growth at all. Increasing the cost for airlines to fly to Scottish airports is the last thing they need.
“This is a poll tax of the skies – it hits businesses and families hard. However this is just another example of the economic damage that can be done to Scotland when we do not have power over our own taxes.
“Scottish MPs must listen to the dire warnings of our airport bosses.
“Other parties say they want APD devolved in commissions and talking shops, but then they back away when they can do something about it.
“It is already devolved to Northern Ireland. We need decisions over Scotland’s taxes to be made by people in Scotland, who are by definition the best-placed to put our interests first.”
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