Edinburgh Airport’s dossier was put together by York Aviation, which counts anti-APD airline Ryanair amongst its clients.
Green MSP Alison Johnstone said she was not surprised that an “aviation-friendly consultancy” was involved in a “PR exercise” for big business.
APD is an excise duty levied on passengers when they fly from UK airports, with its cost dependant on the class of travel and the destination.
It generated around £234 million from flights in Scotland in 2012/13 – around 8% per cent of the UK total.
Supporters of the tax argue that APD helps cuts carbon dioxide emissions, but critics say it is a burden for families.
Airlines dislike the charge as it makes flying more expensive.
Edinburgh Airport, which handles around 10 million passengers a year, last week published a report calling for APD to be cut by 50%
It said halving the tax would create 4,000 jobs and boost the economy by £1bn within five years.
Without this action, the report warned that Scotland could lose out on around 1million passengers and cost the economy up to £68million in lost tourism every year.
APD is due to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament and the SNP is committed the cutting the tax.
However, the “independent” consultancy that compiled the report has links to the multi-billion airline industry.
York Aviation, a “specialist firm of air transport consultants”, has worked for Easyjet, Cityjet and the European Airline Association.
It also provides “ongoing advice” to Ryanair, whose chief executive Michael O’Leary is a staunch supporter of scrapping APD.
He said last year: “APD should be repealed up here in Scotland. It is a major disincentive to airlines, and it is one of the reasons why we struggle to develop the business at Prestwick. It turns off a lot of visitors to Scotland.
“Services that have been lost in recent years would come back at three, four, five times if APD was scrapped.”
“Highly profitable airlines don’t pay a penny of tax on fuel and they are failing to pay for the pollution they create. It doesn’t surprise me that an aviation-friendly consultancy is involved in a PR exercise trying to making life easier for these big businesses.
“Let’s focus instead on boosting domestic tourism, and designing a tax system that shifts responsibility onto highly profitable firms so they pay for their pollution. Let’s also focus on what really matters to the tourism sector in Scotland – issues around skills, broadband and reliable public transport within Scotland.”
Dr Richard Dixon, the Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:
“The air travel industry has form for using its own pet consultants to produce wild figures for how wonderful a decrease in APD would be or how terrible an increase would be. A few years ago they told us it would be a disaster when APD was increased but the number of people flying continued to grow even through the recession. Their latest claims are just as unbelievable. ”
A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport said: “We chose York Aviation to undertake this report as they are one of the leading research firms in this area, and because they work with other airlines and airports. The economists there understand the aviation market intimately and how Air Passenger Duty works to frustrate its growth, making flights to and from Scotland more expensive and reducing the number of direct connections available to Scots travellers.”
A spokeswoman for York Aviation said: “We do relatively little work for airlines.”
The study is at
This is not the first case of an airport or airline getting an allegedly “independent” report done by a company with which it has links. This time PWC and easyJet:
Airlines have another go at trying to get rid of APD – PWC report
Date added: February 4, 2013
EasyJet has produced two press releases, making out that a new study done for the airline industry shows that the UK economy would benefit if Air Passenger Duty was cut. EasyJet, BA, Virgin and Ryanair commissioned PwC to investigate the possible effect of abolishing APD. Using elaborate contortions of facts and logic, and glossing over the point that the main beneficiaries of abolishing the tax would be themselves (not UK plc) they ignore the inconvenient facts that the majority of air travel takes Brits abroad, to spend their money elsewhere. Only a minority – around 20% at most – of air passengers from the UK are on business. The study also ignores the fact that air travel pays no VAT and no fuel duty – making it a very special case, and very under-taxed in comparison to other sectors. Much of the “logic” behind the calculations by PwC of the suggested economic benefits of removing APD involve indirect effects, such as boosting tax take in a variety of sectors, increasing investment, and presumed spin off effects of this over time. All very dubious. No industry likes to pay tax, but there is no reason why air travel – largely discretionary spending by the better off – should escape a fair level of tax. These APD claims by the 4 airlines really are stunning nonsense.
Not so independent auditor
And, to add another interesting twist, the – in theory – “independent” auditors for easyJet is …. guess who? …. PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
Independent auditors’ report (512KB)
which is most irregular …… probably worthy of investigation, as the “independent” auditor should not be involved in writing reports for its client.
Earlier studies by York Aviation for the aviation industry (with bias):
Scottish airports and York Aviation lobbying, yet again, for a cut in APD
Scottish airports are, yet again, hoping to get a drop in Air Passenger Duty, to try and keep flights under-taxed. Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen airports are calling on the UK government to abolish APD or at least frozen and then reduced. A new report by York Aviation (they produced one in February 2011 for BAA Scotland) says Scotland will lose 2 million passengers and £210 million a year in lost tourist spending because of APD. Strangely, this figure is massively higher than it was only a year and three quarters ago. In February 2011 York Aviation only said that ” …over the next three years, Scottish airports will lose around 1.2 million passengers, with the largest numeric losses on domestic services.” So a very sharp increase. Dodgy assumptions and calculations? York Aviation and the airports, as they always do, only consider tourist income of visitors coming to Scotland, and completely ignore the money lost by Scots flying out to spend their holiday money abroad. And of course, completely ignores the tax breaks that air travel receives from paying no VAT and no fuel duty.
York Aviation report says ending Heathrow runway alternation and other short term measures would financially benefit UK
It is rather quiet on the aviation news front at the moment, so time for some publicity for the airports trying to get their runway plans accepted. Backers of Heathrow expansion (London First and the City of London Corporation and Let Britain Fly) have quoted from a report that they hope strengthens their case for a runway to be built as soon as possible. The report is by a firm called York Aviation – which has done a great many reports in the past, with dubious economics that exaggerates one case, while ignoring inconvenient facts that detract from their argument. The York Aviation report says there would be £206 million of economic benefit to the British economy if runway alternation was ended at Heathrow, so both runways were used in mixed mode. This would be deeply unpopular with tens of thousands (even hundreds of thousands perhaps as some 725,000 are overflown) and is why Heathrow airport itself is wary of advocating this. York Aviation also says reducing delays at Heathrow by an average of 2 minutes would result in further savings of £125m. [Really?? for 2 minutes for each person?] But – they say – these benefits are limited compared to the huge benefits of a new runway …. so better get on with it……
Only a 4-runway hub airport will do, says new study for Boris (done by York Aviation)
Criticisms by economists CE Delft of the exaggeration of benefits of the aviation industry by York Aviation:
|* York Aviation have been criticised recently by economists, CE Delft, (page 19 of The Economics of Airport Expansion, March 2013), who said: ..“Overestimation of positive effects
On the other hand, there is a tendency in the aviation industry to overestimate
the positive impacts of aviation. Many studies are based on the ACI-Europe
study kit which has been developed by York Aviation and is widely used by
airports and organisations like the Air Transport Action Group (York Aviation,
2004; ATAG, 2005).” .Also criticism of similar studies showing alleged airport expansion benefits on page 37.York Aviation has repeatedly produced reports in favour of aviation expansion, which have been criticised as being very biased and unbalanced, excluding any inconvenient statistics and exaggerating others. See below
Nov 1, 2012 … Scottish airports are, yet again, hoping to get a drop in Air Passenger Duty, to try and keep flights under-taxed. Edinburgh, Glasgow and …
A new report has been written by York Aviation, for the London Chamber of Commerce, on the alleged financial contribution it makes to London. It says the …
A new report by York Aviation (they produced one in February 2011 for BAA Scotland) says Scotland will lose 2 million passengers and £210 million a year in …
Britain should follow Europe by “expanding” rail travel, not aviation: “We should … [The only evidence for this figure is a report by York Aviation in Feb 2011 at …
File Format: Microsoft Word
We note that several of the studies quoted were carried out by Oxford Economics or by York Aviation. Both are consultancy firms strongly biased towards the …
Feb 20, 2008 … Friends of the Earth and Birmingham Airport Anti-Noise Group (BANG) say the study by consultants York Aviation fails to take properly into …
Mar 14, 2013 … York Aviation – a leading firm specialising in the assessment of the economic impacts of aviation and aviation demand planning. [As with …
ASA and York Aviation reports are worth a look at ASA letter-26th June 2012. Economic Consulting Associates found “Taken together, these observations lead …
Mar 11, 2009 … Research by York Aviation, a consultancy close to the aviation … Sewill argues that the York Aviation research takes no account of the number
Birmingham International airport runway study (by York Aviation) flawed, say opponents
Study by York Aviation for Edinburgh airport suggests a 50% + cut in APD in Scotland could “boost Scottish economy by £200m per year”
Air tax cut ‘could boost Scots economy by £1bn’
Slashing the tax paid by air travellers could boost Scotland’s economy by £1bn by 2020 and create almost 4,000 new jobs, a report has suggested.
The figures emerged from research carried out on behalf of Edinburgh Airport.
The report looked at the impact of cutting air passenger duty (APD) by 50%.
Powers over APD are to be devolved to Holyrood following recommendations by the Smith Commission.
However, a specific date has yet to be set as the move requires UK legislation to be passed.
The new research, conducted by consultants York Aviation, suggested a 50% reduction in APD “might support around 3,800 additional jobs and £200m per annum in GVA (gross value added) by 2020″.
It also found that Scottish airports could lose out on nearly one million passengers a year if APD is not cut by at least 50%.
Such a cut, it argued, would result in 700,000 more passengers coming through Scotland’s airports in the first year, rising to about 900,000 after five years.
Edinburgh Airport chief executive Gordon Dewar said: “We’ve long argued that APD is a tax on Scotland’s ability to compete with European airports of our size and our economy is footing the bill in lost jobs and lost opportunities.
“Our report shows that the economic benefit of a reduction will outweigh any lost tax revenues.
“It’s therefore reasonable for passengers, airlines and the tourism industry to have some certainty on when this regressive tax will be reduced, and to know whether it will eventually be scrapped.”
The Scottish government welcomed the report, which it said showed “the clear benefits” of devolving power over APD to Holyrood.
“Devolving APD to Scotland as soon as possible will help to unlock the country’s full economic potential, bringing more international flights to and from Scotland as well as cutting costs for passengers.
“In terms of the timetable, only once the necessary legislation has been passed by the UK Parliament will the Scottish government be able to legislate for a replacement Scottish tax.
“We have confirmed that we intend to reduce APD by 50% within the term of the next parliament with a view to eventual abolition of the tax when public finances allow.
“No specific timetable has been given by the UK government for passing the legislation, but we continue to argue for this to happen as soon as possible.”
A UK government spokesman said: “This is a good example of the choices the further devolution of powers is giving the Scottish Parliament.
“The ability to change the levels of air passenger duty will lie entirely with the Scottish government while also being responsible for the loss or gain of revenue that results.
“That means financial accountability in decision-making in this area in Scotland.
“The UK government, like Edinburgh Airport, look forward to seeing their detailed plans in due course.”
Environmental group WWF Scotland said the report completely failed to acknowledge that aviation was the fastest growing sector of carbon pollution.
Director Lang Banks said: “Despite all their special pleading, the aviation industry still enjoys significant exemption from taxes, including VAT and fuel duty.
“Even the Scottish government admits that halving APD would increase carbon emissions by as much as 60,000 tonnes a year.
“The reality is that, if we want to meet our climate targets, any growth in emissions from the aviation sector will have to be offset by deeper cuts elsewhere in Scotland’s economy.”