MOVES BY THE Scottish Government to abolish Air Passenger Duty (APD) is being hailed by the travel industry as capable of bringing “huge benefits” to tourism.
Irish budget airline Ryanair has cited how passenger numbers at Ireland’s main airports grew by 3.3million this year on the back of an Irish Government decision to abolish their air passenger tax last year.
That followed five years of decline for the air passenger industry in Ireland, with Ryanair spokesman Robin Kiely saying: “The welcome repeal of air travel tax has resulted in record traffic and tourism growth for Ireland – demonstrating to our counterparts in the UK the enormous economic benefits that removing APD brings.”
Moray’s MP Angus Robertson has been arguing the case for abolition of APD for years – now he is looking forward to a 50% cut in the duty thanks to new devolved power to the Scottish Government.
While the cut in Scotland will not come into effect until 2018, Scottish Government figures indicate that when it does it will generate up to 3800 jobs within two years.
Mr Robertson said: “The growth in the Scottish aviation industry is hugely welcome. I have long argued that the devolution of Air Passenger Duty powers would give us a real opportunity to build on this progress and ensure more direct international connections to Scotland.
“In Moray we have many internationally renowned brands and better and cheaper access to their marketplaces would undoubtedly be a boost. Tourism in Moray is also a hugely important sector and making it cheaper for visitors to get direct access to our region has real economic potential for us.
“Over the last ten years, the number of foreign airports served from Scotland has doubled, with the number of routes also doubling during that time – giving a clear indication of Scotland’s growing international demand.
“This growth has happened despite the high levels of the UK Government’s Air Passenger Duty (APD), which penalises Scottish airports and damages our economy by an estimated £200m.
“Given the clear advantages of reducing APD for airports across Scotland I sincerely hope that other parties in Scotland will get behind the positive use this power when it becomes available to the Scottish Parliament.”