Mixed reaction to call to scrap long-haul Scottish APD

Mixed reaction to call to scrap long-haul Scottish APD

Airlines have given a mixed reaction to Tory calls for long-haul Air Passenger Duty to be abolished in Scotland.

Virgin Atlantic joined trade body UKinbound in welcoming the development but Flybe said it was disappointed that the focus was on long-haul elements of the tax only.

The reaction came as it emerged that SNP ministers signalled they would look to strike a deal with the Conservatives to cut the tax.

The Scottish government welcomed the Conservative plan as a “move in the right direction” and said ministers were looking forward “to persuading parliament as a whole on this”.

Dale Keller, chief executive of BAR UK, described the Tory proposals as a “green light” for the SNP government to cut APD.

Craig Kreeger, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said: “The Scottish government has rightly identified Air Passenger Duty as a barrier to growth and the proposal by the Scottish Conservatives to abolish the tax on long-haul flying would provide a huge boost for Scottish economy just in time for Brexit.

“Business travellers and holidaymakers would see the cost of travel fall and Scotland would be an even more attractive destination for overseas visitors.

“We hope all parties in Scotland will get behind this considered proposal to make this change happen.”

However, Flybe said: “We are disappointed the Scottish Conservatives have decided to focus only on long-haul APD and ignored the damaging impact the disproportionate level of short-haul APD is having on UK regional travel.

“Short-haul APD is a punitive tax, which on a per mile basis is many multiples of the long-haul rate.

“As a departure tax a domestic return customer is hit twice, compounding the iniquity of the situation. Furthermore, as the majority of flights are short-haul, this proposal will not deliver any benefit to most travellers.

“While we welcome the fact that APD in its current form is being increasingly recognised as economically damaging, we call on the Scottish Conservatives and the Scottish government to consider the needs of local economies and reform short-haul APD, alongside long-haul APD.

“Doing this in tandem would provide a really meaningful and tangible boost to Scotland’s economy.”

Fybe’s comments came despite the Scottish Conservatives also supporting an immediate APD freeze on flights to the UK and Europe.

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