Calls for equality over Air Passenger Duty as Northern Ireland gains advantage

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The SNP has called for equality of treatment from the UK Government as the Treasury announced that, from 1 November 2011, the rate of Air Passenger Duty (APD) for direct long-haul passengers departing from airports in Northern Ireland will be cut to the short-haul rate, which is currently £12 in economy and £24 in business and first class.

The UK Government said the measure was in response to the unique challenge facing Northern Ireland and designed to ensure local airports remain competitive.  In parallel the UK Government is also launching a process for the devolution of aspects of APD to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

SNP Westminster Transport spokesperson Angus MacNeil said:

“This is good news for Northern Ireland, but Scotland deserves equality of treatment from the Treasury.

“There is overwhelming evidence for the devolution of APD with all four of Scotland’s largest airports backing the call and Transport Scotland saying ‘there is no good reason why passengers in Scotland should have to continue to travel in such numbers through other UK airports or should not benefit from levels of connectivity enjoyed in other parts of the UK’

“Devolution of APD would enable us to incentivise airlines to provide new direct international routes, providing Scotland’s passengers with enhanced options as they go about their business more freely and more effectively.  It would also provide a substantial boost to the Scottish economy and create jobs.

“It is time for the UK Government to stop being hypocritical and allow Scotland to have control over flight taxes, just like Northern Ireland.”