Scot­tish air travel tax cut would hit city air­port hard

Solihull News - - NEWS - JONATHAN WALKER jon. walker@ trin­i­tymir­ror. com

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.”

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