Air Passenger Duty cuts should be matched across the whole of the country, say UK airports

A cut in Air Passenger Duty in one part of the country should be matched, immediately, by a cut everywhere, according to the Airport Operators Association (AOA), the trade body that represents over 50 UK airports.

In November the Smith Commission published proposals – which were subsequently supported by the main UK political parties – to devolve responsibility for APD to the Scottish Government. Ahead of the UK Government setting out draft legislation on these plans by 25 January, airports have called upon the Treasury to ensure that no parts of the country are disadvantaged by any potential reduction in the tax in Scotland.

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the AOA, said: “UK levels of Air Passenger Duty continue to be the highest in the world, and represent a growing barrier to trade, investment and tourism. The Treasury has recognised this fact by making a number of welcome reforms to the APD regime over the past 12 months – such as removing the levy for both the longest-haul travel (bands C & D) and children under the age of 16 – but the fact remains that at a time when our international competitors are either abolishing or at least freezing their respective air taxes, overall rates of APD in this country are increasing year after year, and now stand at record levels.

“The Smith Commission’s proposal to devolve APD to Scotland – and the decision of the main UK political parties to support this recommendation – is a genuine game changer, given the long-stated ambition of the Scottish Government to reduce APD by 50% in the short-term, to be followed by eventual abolition in the future. Now that the Scottish Government plans to follow our European competitors in taking action on this tax, the Treasury should think seriously about the impact that this will have on the rest of the UK. We continue to believe that a cut in APD anywhere should be matched, immediately, by a cut everywhere, so that no parts of the country are disadvantaged in any way, and we urge the Treasury to publish a plan that sets out how and when this can be delivered.

“We also continue to urge all political parties to support the setting up of a comprehensive macro-economic study, led by the Treasury, that can consider the UK’s APD regime in its entirety, so that all future decisions on reform of this tax are evidence-based.”