By Bob Duncan
Detailed analysis of Wednesday’s Westminster budget has shown that Air Passenger Duty (APD) in Scotland is set to rise.
The tax hike, which chancellor George Osborne neglected to mention in his speech, was hidden in the fine print of the budget statement and has been condemned by the SNP as the last thing Scotland needs.
The accompanying documents make clear that the Westminster Government will press ahead with a hike in APD from April 1st, increasing the cost of flights to and from all of Scotland’s airports.
APD is a levy charged by the UK treasury on every commercial flight which starts or terminates at a UK airport.
The Scottish government has been arguing for several years that the tax should be devolved to Scotland in order that Scottish airports can be made more competitive, attracting new routes and airlines to Scotland.
Despite devolving APD to Northern Ireland for the similar reasons, Westminster has so far refused to do the same for Scotland.
SNP MSP Colin Keir who convenes the CPG on Aviation and whose constituency is home to Edinburgh Airport said:
“This hike in Air Passenger Duty is extremely bad news for Scotland’s airports and the wider economy.
“We should be doing everything we can to attract airlines to Scottish airports so that we can secure the full economic benefits that good air connections bring with them.
“Increasing the cost for airlines to fly to Scottish airports is the last thing that Scotland’s economy needs.
“George Osborne’s failure to change course on this tax hike is symptomatic of a Westminster system that simply treats the needs of Scotland as an afterthought if it considers them at all.
“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.
“Only a Yes vote in next year’s referendum will secure us those powers and ensure that the taxation system in Scotland is used to build a fairer, more prosperous country.”