Cheap air fares could be north of the bor­der

Wilmslow Express - - NEWS - Char­lotte Cox

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

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