A government decision not to devolve Air Passenger Duty to Wales will ensure fair competition between Bristol and Cardiff airports, an MP claims.

Bristol South Labour MP Karin Smyth has been campaigning against devolution of the air tax to the Welsh government as it would have made flying from Cardiff “significantly cheaper” with a reduction or abolition of APD in Wales.

The government yesterday confirmed that there would be no devolution of APD to Wales.

Cardiff airport is owned by the Welsh government and devolving APD powers would have allowed the tax to be cut, potentially drawing thousands of passengers away from Bristol.

In a Commons debate on the Wales Bill, parliamentary under secretary of state for Wales, Conservative MP Guto Bebb, said: “Air Passenger Duty has been raised during the debate, and the fact that we are not proposing to devolve it has been criticised, although I think that that is right and proper.”

An argument had been put forward that there was a need to devolve provisions for long haul passengers, but there has been no consensus on that issue, he added.

“I also ask what benefits such a measure would bring to north Wales in terms of the impact on the Welsh devolution financial settlement. At this time I think it is the right decision not to devolve air passenger duty, and I am happy to stand by that,” said Bebb.

He was responding to a question from Smyth, who highlighted the economic impact to the local area of Bristol airport, which employs 11,000 people and handles seven million passengers a year.

Smyth said: “Bristol airport wants to continue investing in facilities and creating jobs.

“APD devolution would have broken up the level playing field on which it currently operates, so the government’s decision not to devolve these powers to Wales is very welcome news for the south-west’s economy.

“Aviation has long been part of Bristol’s economic success story and our local airport’s capacity is central to further growth.”