Commenting on another increase in Air Passenger Duty (APD) the Westminster tax that hits aviation in Scotland and is seen to be doing real damage to Scotland’s tourist industry and well as business travellers, Angus MacNeil SNP Transport spokesperson and MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar said :

“The UK Chancellor has done it again. For the 6th consecutive year, Air Passenger Duty (APD)  will increase in all medium and long-haul flights. From April 1st a family of four flying in economy to the United States , Canada or Egypt will have to pay £276 . This tax is already the highest of its kind anywhere in the world. As the Chancellor illustrated in his Autumn Statement, the Westminster Government has absolutely no plans to reform or reduce the tax.

“It’s worth reflecting just how damaging and how hated this tax is. It’s costing families hundreds of pounds extra just to get away on an annual overseas break. But businesses are also hit. A report published last year by Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports found that by 2016 APD will cost the Scottish Economy £210 million and over two million passengers each year. While Glasgow City Marketing Bureau estimated recently that the levy cost £25m alone in lost conference business over a six month period.

“In the Scottish Government’s  White Paper – we said that we’d like to see Scotland take control of APD and one of the first things we would do would be to reduce it by 50% with a long-term view to abolishing it altogether. We’re not alone in wanting to do this. The Republic of Ireland recently announced plans to abolish its Air Travel Tax and Northern Ireland has had control of APD on long-haul flights devolved, while earlier this year Germany froze its air departure tax in recognition of the damage it was doing.

“In January 2011 a York Aviation report into the impact of the increase of APD on Scotland estimated that APD will result in Scotland losing 1.2m passengers, 148,000 tourists and £77m in revenue to 2014. What more evidence does the Treasury need before they will conduct an impact-assessment of APD at the very least?

“Our European neighbours are already benefitting from lower or no passenger departure taxes. Take Barcelona airport: it gained more than 20 international routes in a year because of a 100% APD reduction.

“So, the Chancellor’s intransigence on the issue of APD comes as no surprise to those of us who have been campaigning for the devolution of this tax to Scotland. The only way we’ll get any change to get this tax devolved is by voting Yes at next year’s referendum. Only with independence we will get rid of this out-of touch Westminster Government.”