MSPs unite to call for flight tax change

PRESSURE on the UK Government to devolve the Air Passenger Duty (APD) to Scotland has increased after SNP, Labour and LibDem MSPs called for action.

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MPS said that Scotland's airports were being disadvantaged and passengers being hit twice as a result of a lack of direct flights.

The Scottish Government wants Chancellor George Osborne to give control of the tax to Holyrood, to allow it to be cut in a bid to win back passenger numbers that have been lost since the tax was introduced and increased.

Labour backed the calls for devolving the tax and the LibDems said while it would help, leader Willie Rennie warned against thinking it would solve all the problems faced by the aviation industry.

Ministers cited a study by York University, reported earlier this month by the Evening Times, that showed the tax was costing Scotland 2.1 million passengers and £210m a year in lost income.

Keith Brown, Transport Minister said the UK's APD was the most expensive in Europe.

He said: "Direct flights are more environmentally efficient than the multi-stop journeys via overseas hub airports that APD currently incentivises.

"The only way to properly support Scotland's aviation industry, the needs of passengers and the growth of Scotland's economy is for APD to be devolved, as has happened in Northern Ireland.

"This should take place as soon as possible."

Labour want a review of the tax, but agreed with calls to devolve it, while seeking other action to improve competitiveness at Glasgow Airport.

Hanzala Malik, Glasgow Labour MSP said: "APD is only part of the jigsaw. Developing more routes from Scotland is necessary and we need to improve infrastructure and access to the airport."

stewart.paterson@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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