Scottish air travel tax cut would hit city airport hard
BIRMINGHAM Airport will suffer “phenomenal” damage from cuts to air travel taxes in Scotland, Ministers have been warned.
The Scottish government is cutting Air Passenger Duty in half and plans to abolish the tax entirely.
It means English airports such as Birmingham face unfair competition from those in Scotland, where air travel will be cheaper. Birmingham MP Steve McCabe ( Lab Selly Oak) urged the government to give English regional airports a fair deal when he spoke in the House of Commons.
And Birmingham Airport said it could provide a huge boost to the West Midlands economy if it was given the same treatment as Scottish airports such as Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr McCabe asked: “When the Scottish government set their rate for air departure tax, that could have a phenomenal impact on the airline industry and every regional airport and regional economy in this country.”
There was no reply from Mel Stride, the Treasury Minister representing the government in the debate.
It follows a promise made to the Scottish government in 2014, during the Scottish independence referendum campaign. In a bid to convince Scots to vote to stay in the UK, the leaders of the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties issued a joint “pledge” which included promises to give Scotland control over taxes including air passenger duty, which is charged on flights leaving airports.
Experts say travellers could save up to £ 194 per person by flying from Edinburgh instead of an English regional airport. This also makes Scottish airports more attractive to airlines considering where to run flights from.
David Cameron promised in 2015 that the government would protect English airports but in 2016 the government announced it had decided to do nothing until after we leave the EU.
Birmingham Airport said giving the region the same deal as Scotland could provide a huge boost to the economy. A spokesman said: “Birmingham Airport served 11.6 million passengers in 2016, 14 per cent more than the year before. This connectivity boosts the UK economy by over £ 1 billion every year.
“To cater for growing demand we have invested £ 350 million into the airport in recent years, and are currently investing a further £ 100 million to improve passenger facilities.
“Alongside this, we have called on the government to reform air passenger duty so that it is lower for those airports like ours seeking to grow new routes. This would protect our regional economies from air passenger duty cuts in Scotland while helping to plug the ‘ Midlands Engine’ into new international opportunities.”