Glasgow Airport will Benefit from the Reduction of Air Passenger Duty

Scottish Ministers have marked a new milestone towards reform and reduction of Air Passenger Duty (APD) in Scotland.George and Keith


Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown will this afternoon jointly chair the first meeting of the Scottish APD stakeholder forum – marking the latest stage in fiscal devolution plans – as part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to cutting APD by 50 per cent during the lifetime of the next Parliament.


The Smith Commission recommended last year that power to control APD be devolved to Holyrood via the Scotland Bill, which is currently being considered at Westminster.


Speaking on the meeting Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, said:


“It is no great secret that one obstacle holding back the economic development of Scotland is the tax described as Air Passenger Duty (APD).


“This tax, one of the highest of its kind in Europe does not help our economy.  This is just one example of the many levers that are needed for a Government to drive an economy, producing jobs and investment, ensuring that the Government can steer financial decisions in the right way according to what is required.


“Glasgow Airport is an essential part of Paisley.  Controlling APD will have tremendous benefits locally and nationally in removing one of the biggest turn offs for business and tourism.”


Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown added:


“With the latest Ernst and Young survey showing Scotland remains the most successful part of the UK outside London in attracting foreign direct investment, Scotland is already an attractive destination for business and inbound tourism and we want to open up Scotland to key and emerging markets to capitalise on the opportunities that exist.


“UK APD has been the most expensive tax of its kind in Europe and continues to act as a barrier to Scotland’s ability to secure new direct international services and maintain existing ones.


“Devolution of APD to the Scottish Parliament will provide the opportunity to put in place new arrangements which better support the Scottish Government’s objective to help generate new direct routes and increase inbound tourism. Our plan to initially cut APD and then abolish it when public finances permit is a fundamental component to improving Scotland’s international connectivity”


Sir John Elvidge, Chairman, Edinburgh Airport, said: “Our report earlier in the year showed very clearly that APD is placing a drag on Scotland’s economic growth, costing jobs and millions of pounds in lost revenue.


“We’ve long supported its devolution and are keen to work with the Scottish Government to ensure that the process is as smooth and as quick as possible. Clarity around the timing of any reduction in APD is vital for route development and we hope that this forum will be able to provide that.”


Sophie Dekkers, easyJet’s UK director, said:


“easyJet has long campaigned for the removal of Air Passenger Duty. We know that its impact is most keenly felt in Scotland where passengers flying domestically pay £13 on both ‎flights.

“Now that powers over APD are being devolved to Scotland, and as Scotland’s biggest airline, we are pleased to be working with the Scottish Government to halve and then abolish the tax.


“When APD is halved passengers in Scotland will quickly feel the benefit, with easyJet and other airlines adding more services to existing destinations and launching flights to new destinations from Scotland.‎”


Paul Simmons, Chief Commercial Officer of flybe, said:


“We believe that the abolition of or the reduction of APD in Scotland will have two key impacts, firstly, some international routes which are currently marginal when we assess them and therefore not flown, are likely to become viable.


“Secondly, there is likely to be a price reduction for the consumer on domestic flying and the real possibility of additional frequencies.

“Both of these will be good for the consumer and the economy.”


Kate Sherry, Ryanair’s Deputy Director of Route Development, said: “One need only look to Ireland to see the effect scrapping APD has had, with tourist traffic rising by almost 10 per cent since APD was abolished in April 2014 and the VAT received from the additional tourist spend far exceeding the loss of APD.


“We welcome the opportunity to share our views at the Scottish Air Passenger Duty stakeholder forum and support any initiatives to axe this tax.”


George at Glasgow Airport Amanda McMillan Alyn Smith MEP

Passengers Numbers will Increase as APD is Cut

A recent report by Edinburgh Airport ‘The impact of reducing APD on Scotland’s airports’ has highlighted the benefits to our airports, economy and tourism sector, a reduction of 50% in Air Passenger Duty (APD) would create. Glasgow Airport alone would be projected to receive 200,000 extra passengers a year, bring along with it countless positives for the local and national economies. This reports comes days before Glasgow Airport released figures showing that they enjoyed their busiest February in 8 years, welcoming 510,000 passengers and boosting 24 months of consecutive growth.George at Glasgow Airport Amanda McMillan Alyn Smith MEP

Speaking recently, Paisley’s MSP George Adam said, “For far too long, our airports have been working wonders but with one hand tied behind their backs. Glasgow Airport has continued to grow it passenger numbers during difficult times, but the UK Government continues to hinder our local airport further by imposing high levels of APD on each passenger that travels. Thankfully, APD looks set to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government has already confirmed that it intends to reduce APD by 50% within the next session of Parliament, with a view to eventually abolishing the tax when public finances allow.

‘Since becoming Paisley’s MSP, I have on a number of occasions spoke with Amanda McMillan, Managing Director of Glasgow Airport and APD is always high on the agenda. If we want to help our economy grow, we can’t impose regressive taxes which not only impact on the airport, but increase the costs to every one of us when travelling in search of sun, sea and sand. The devolution of APD to the Scottish Parliament really can’t come soon enough. Let’s hope whoever is 10 Downing Street after May 7th respects the Scottish people and deals with the APD issue early in their term in office.”

Speaking yesterday, the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities Keith Brown said, “Over the past four or five years, I have been at meetings with all the major airports in Scotland and most of the major airlines—airlines that in other situations will sometimes be at each other’s throats in a competitive environment—and it is remarkable that they sit together and say the same thing. There would be the same benefits in Glasgow, in Edinburgh, in Aberdeen and throughout the country, and in particular there would be benefits to individuals who currently have to endure one of the highest taxes of its kind in the world.

‘Even better for the Scottish economy, we would have an increase in passengers coming to this country, many of whom, we know, have said, “We’re not going to go to the UK. We’re going to go to France.” People from South America and various other parts of the world will go to France, not least because the visa requirements are less onerous, but especially because the airport tax that is applied to them is much lower there. Let us get the tax devolved and let us get that business back.”

George Hits out at Airline Slots

George outside Paisley Abbey and Paisley Town Hall, underneath Glasgow Airport's Flightpath

In light of the news that Virgin Atlantic has been offered the rights to operate Heathrow links to Edinburgh and Aberdeen, George has voiced his discontent that Glasgow Airport has missed out. George has mirrored Amanda McMillan’s comments, managing director of Glasgow Airport that it is disappointing that the airport will not benefit in any way from this decision as the EU Commission did not include Glasgow in its plans to ringfence slots at Heathrow. With the news last week that the UK Government is to increase Air Passenger Duty, this is yet another shining example of why Scotland needs her independence and a seat alongside other EU members.

“I was very disappointed to hear that Glasgow Airport was not to benefit in any way from the plans to ringfence slots at Heathrow. I have been working with Amanda McMillan since being elected and have seen the dedication from her and her staff which has lead to the major increases in passengers traveling through the airport, which is great news for the local economy.

‘This news from the EU Commission is not what we would have hoped for, coming on the back of the increase to Air Passenger Duty (APD), a decision taken by Westminster. I believe now more than ever we need a strong Scottish voice at the EU, which we currently are not afforded.

‘We need the powers to regulate our own APD. Recently, in parliament at the last meeting of the Cross Party Group on Aviation, many of the industries most influential people attended. Be assured, I will continue to support Glasgow Airport in any way I can.”