Cheap air fares could be north of the border
PLANS to cut air tax in Scotland could hit Manchester Airport’s passenger numbers as holidaymakers seek cheaper fares over the border, experts warn.
Over the past five years, passengers travelling through Manchester Airport have had to pay more than £1bn in Air Passenger Duty – a huge hit on holiday budgets.
The Scottish government is likely to slash it north of the border by 50 per cent – maybe with a view to future abolition.
The tax would currently cost a family of four travelling from Manchester to Turkey around £276.
Although fuel supplements may be added on flights from Scotland, it would still make it worthwhile for families to travel north of the border for their flights if the Scottish government slashes or abolishes the tax.
Introduced in 1994, the tax ranges from £13 per person on flights to Europe to £97 per person on flights to Australia.
From May, long-haul journeys of more than 4,000 miles will see the tax fall to £71 per person and under 12s will be tax-free – the same will apply to under 16s from May 2016.
But despite this, Britain still has the second highest air passenger duty in the world.
The levy is passed on to the passenger in air fares and also risks putting off potential airlines.
It has led to Manchester Airport and many airlines to campaign for its abolition.
A Manchester Airport study submitted to the Airports Commission estimates they would gain four million annual passengers by 2020 if there was a phased out removal of APD on flights.
John Grant, executive president for OAG, a global expert in aviation information and analyti-
long-haul cal services, said he believed the government would be left with little choice but to listen to Manchester Airport and other regional hubs.
He said: “The Scottish government has been told it will be able to set its own levels of APD.
“This will have a ripple effect – it’s very difficult to see how that action is not going to impact other airports in the UK.
“It will increase unnatural travel behaviours in passengers.
“The undecided passenger will go from Scotland.”
A Manchester Airport spokesman said: “APD can also hold back airlines who are looking to provide more connectivity and choice directly from the north, particularly to longhaul markets.
“Following any cut in Scottish APD rates, the UK Government must match any reduction on a like for like basis, and look seriously at scrapping the tax altogether.” PASSENGERS can already find better deals either north or south of the border – because of the difference in school holidays.
For example, a twoweek package holiday for a family of four to Majorca is more expensive from Glasgow Airport than either Manchester Airport or Newcastle Airport in early July 2015, when Scottish children are on holiday but their English counterparts are not.
The reverse is true by early August when the Scottish children have returned to school and the English children are on holiday.
But removal or reduction of APD in Scotland could shift the balance further – stopping the flow of passenger traffic to Manchester even in Scottish school holidays.
Price for a two-week holiday to Majorca for a family of two adults and two children (including APD)
Glasgow: Depart July 7: £2,244 Depart July 28: £2,326 Depart August: £2,170
Manchester: Depart July 7: £1,812 Depart July 28: £2,490 Depart August 4: £2,486