Reducing Air Passenger Duty in Scotland would be unfair to travellers in the rest of the UK, MPs say

A majority of Members of Parliament believe that a decision by the Scottish Government to reduce the level of Air Passenger Duty (APD) in Scotland would be unfair to travellers in the rest of the UK, a new poll carried out by ComRes has found.

The Scotland Bill – a Bill that will allow the Scottish Government to set its own rate of APD – is currently making its way through the House of Commons, and is expected to enter the statute book early next year. The Scottish Government has pledged to reduce APD by 50% for passengers departing an airport north of the border. In this new poll, 55% of MPs (including 60% of Conservative MPs and 61% of Labour MPs) agree that this would be unfair to passengers in the rest of the UK, with 27% agreeing strongly with this statement. Just under half of MPs (44%) agree that in the event of the Scottish Government reducing APD by 50% the UK Government should commit to matching this across the whole of the country.

Overall, 65% of MPs (including 75% of Conservative MPs) believe that were the Government to reduce APD this would “allow the UK to better compete with other European countries with respect to trade, investment and tourism.”

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association (AOA), the trade association representing over 50 airports, which commissioned the poll, said:

“It is clear from this poll that a majority of MPs believe that overall levels of APD in the UK are too high and that reducing the tax would offer a number of advantages to the entire country, such as boosting jobs and investment and supporting inbound and outbound tourism. In addition, whilst we support APD being reduced generally, there is understandable concern about the impact that a halving of the rate in Scotland will have on passengers in the rest of the country, who through no fault of their own will suddenly be forced to pay more to take a well-deserved break or travel away on business.

“Both the Prime Minister and Chancellor have been clear that they will not allow regions outside Scotland to be adversely impacted in any way as a result of the Scottish Government reducing APD by 50%. The only way that they can do this is to ensure that the UK has a consistent rate of APD across the whole of the UK, so that passengers in Exeter pay the same amount as those in Edinburgh. The Chancellor will soon deliver his Budget statement and we call upon him to both reduce the overall rate of APD – so that at the very least it is consistent with the comparative rate set by our European rivals – and explain how he intends to ensure that no part of the country is disadvantaged by distortive levels of taxation.”

ComRes interviewed 127 MPs online and by paper self-completion questionnaire between 21st May and 25th June 2015. Data were weighted to reflect the exact composition of the House of Commons in terms of party representation and regional constituency distribution. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. To view the results in full, please visit the ComRes website at