Newcastle airport warns PM over threat of APD devolution

Newcastle airport warns PM over threat of APD devolution

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Newcastle airport has written to David Cameron warning of the dangers to English regional airports is Scotland is allowed to cut Air Passenger Duty.

Failure to act to protect airports in England from a reduced tax in Scotland would break a promise the prime minister made last year.

“The consequences of unmatched reductions in Scotland would be so serious that ‘do nothing’ continues to be simply not an option,” warned David Laws, chief executive of the north-east airport.

He spoke out at the Scottish government confirmed plans to start consulting on cutting the air tax in Scotland from 2018.

Laws said: “We maintain the view that the government should commit now to matching reductions in Scotland across the whole country.

“If this is not possible, then our view is that the second of the options in last year’s APD discussion paper - the varying of rates within England - is the most preferable and the least inequitable.

“A failure to act now would break the promise made in 2015 to protect English regional airports.

“We would be surprised if the government allowed the devolved administrations to drive the policy direction on this important issue. This surely wouldn’t be right for our country as a whole?

“We therefore call upon the government to take control of this crucial agenda now, before it is too late.”

Planning and corporate affairs director, Graeme Mason, added: “We maintain the view that the government should commit now to matching reductions in Scotland across the whole country.

“If this is not possible, then our view is that the second of the options in the APD discussion paper, the varying of rates within England, is the most preferable and the least inequitable.

“If in order to meet EU legal requirements this must be a system of differential rates based upon level of airport congestion, then we would accept that.

“Such an approach would help ensure, as has been promised, that other English cities don’t lose out and that England’s regional airports can succeed.

“We have been asked whether an alternative approach, a system of APD ‘holidays’ for new air services, would be a possible solution.

“Our strong view is that such an arrangement would not address the threat that we face, and would in fact make matters even worse by concentrating new routes at larger airports further south.”

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