SNP to launch consultation on plan to cut Scottish air passenger duty by 50%, starting April 2018

The Scottish National Party (SNP) say they will cut Air Passenger Duty (APD) by 50% between April 2018 and 2021, if they win the Holyrood election on 5th May 2016. There is now a public consultation on this proposal. Control of APD is due to be devolved to Holyrood when the Scotland Bill becomes law, so it is no longer administered by the UK government. The Scottish Labour party has said a reduction would most benefit wealthier people, and should not go ahead. The majority of flights are taken by more affluent people, who can afford multiple short breaks as well as long haul holidays. Details of the APD consultation were announced by Finance Secretary John Swinney during a visit to Edinburgh Airport. The 50% cut in APD would start in April 2018, and be done in stages till 2021. The industry would like cutting APD to increase the amount of profitable high spending tourists to Scotland. They hope this would boost jobs and bring economic benefits. The amount of Scottish money taken out of the country on even cheaper flights is not counted, nor the jobs lost as Scots spend their holiday money abroad. Climate campaigners fear the net effect will be higher carbon emissions from Scottish aviation, if the ticket price is cut.


Public Consultation

The Scottish Government published the following two public consultation papers on 14 March 2016:

Both consultations are open for response from the public for a 12 week period, closing on Friday 3 June 2016, and can also be found on the Scottish Government’s Citizen Space online consultation platform.

In addition to responding to both consultations, the Scottish Government encourages respondents with any further ideas or recommendations to join the conversation in its online discussion forum at:  The discussion forum is open for submissions until Friday 8 April 2016.

More at



Scottish air passenger duty consultation launched

14.3.2016 (BBC)

A consultation on plans to halve air passenger duty (APD) on flights from Scottish airports is to be launched.

Control of the tax is due to be devolved to Holyrood when the Scotland Bill becomes law.

SNP ministers have said they will cut the duty by 50% between April 2018 and 2021, if they win the Holyrood election on 5 May.

Labour has said a reduction would most benefit wealthier people, and should not go ahead.

Full details of the consultation are due to be announced by Finance Secretary John Swinney during a visit to Edinburgh Airport.

Direct flights

The Scottish government confirmed in its most recent Programme for Government that it intends to reduce APD in Scotland by 50%.

The reduction will begin when a Scottish replacement to APD is introduced in April 2018,and will be delivered in full by the end of the next Scottish Parliament, which is expected to be in 2021.

Ministers hope that reducing – and eventually abolishing – air passenger duty will increase direct flights to and from Scotland.

Edinburgh Airport published a report last year that claimed a 50% reduction in APD would create 3,800 jobs by 2020 and stimulate £200m of economic benefits for Scotland each year.

Bosses at the airport have called for the 50% cut to be introduced in one go rather than through a phased reduction.

Tourism body VisitScotland said there was “no doubt” that APD acts as a “major deterrent” to many potential visitors, with few other EU countries levying a similar tax.

But critics have argued that new routes have been developed without the tax cut, while concerns have been raised about the possible environmental impact of more flights.

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland has said a cut in APD could lead to a rise in climate emissions of up to 60,000 tonnes of CO2.

Competitive disadvantage

Its chairman, Mike Robinson, said: “This is about fairness. Why allow one industry to not be taxed when you tax every other industry?

“And it is one we should not necessarily be trying to advance instead of train travel or more sustainable forms of transport.”

Airports in England have also said they would be left at a huge competitive disadvantage by an APD cut in Scotland.

Labour has said it would maintain air passenger duty and use proceeds from it to help first time homebuyers save for a deposit.

Speaking ahead of Mr Swinney’s announcement, Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown told BBC Scotland that APD was “currently the highest tax of its kind in the world”.

He added: “We think it is choking off economic activity in Scotland. That is why we have taken this decision, and that is why we want to find out the views of different stakeholders.

“This will be a benefit to airports, to airlines, and it will be a benefit to passengers and a benefit to the wider economy in Scotland.”

What is Air Passenger Duty?

  • Air passenger duty is charged on all passenger flights from UK airports
  • The rate of tax varies according to where the passenger is going, and the class of travel
  • It was introduced in 1994, and was originally just £5 per person for short-haul flights, and £10 elsewhere
  • The tax has been increased by successive UK governments, and brings in about £3bn a year
  • From 1 April of this year, flights of 2,000 miles or less will see APD charged at £13 for passengers in economy class seats, and £26 for all other classes
  • For flights of more than 2,000 miles, the rate will be £73 for economy class, and £146 for any other class
  • A higher rate – payable for aircraft weighing more than 20 tonnes but equipped to carry fewer than 19 passengers – will be charged at £78 for the lowest class of seats and £438 for all others
  • No APD is charged for direct long-haul flights from Northern Ireland, or for flights from airports in the Scottish Highlands and Islands
  • Air passenger duty for children aged over 12 and under 16 on economy flights will be abolished from 1 March
  • It was abolished for under 12s on economy flights last year.




The Scottish Labour Party says, on the APD cut and carbon emissions:

APD cut shows the SNP are full of hot air on climate change

2nd January 2016 (Scottish Labour Party)

The SNP’s plan to cut air passenger duty shows the SNP are full of hot air on climate change.

Earlier in December, [the Paris Agreement] 195 countries across world agreed to a historic deal on climate change.

The deal means each country  will attempt to cut greenhouse gas emissions to a level that will limit the global average temperature to a rise “well below” 2C (3.6F) compared to pre-industrial levels – a level of warming deemed to be the point when dangerous climate change could threaten life on Earth.

Environmental Justice spokesperson Sarah Boyack MSP said that the SNP’s plans to cut and then ultimately abolish air passenger duty will see an extra 50,000 [tonnes of] greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland every year.

The SNP have never hit ambitious annual targets on climate change set by the Scottish parliament in 2009, and Scottish Labour said that cutting air passenger duty will just make it even more difficult to achieve the ambitions of Paris.

Scottish Labour Environmental Justice Spokesperson Sarah Boyack said:

“This winter in Paris we saw an agreement which has the potential to change the future of our planet for the better.

“For the first time ever the nations of the world have come together to agree that every single one of them will act to cut carbon pollution.

“In the coming months and years we have a huge amount of work to do to deliver on the promises made in Paris, that means we should all consider doing our own bit to tackle climate change.

“But one of the first things the SNP Government plan to do with the new powers coming to Scotland is to cut air passenger duty, at a cost of £125 million.

“Scottish Labour believes that government would be better investing in our communities than on business class flights, but it will also make the ambitions of Paris all the more difficult to achieve.

“The SNP should reconsider this plan – or else their posturing on climate change just looks like a lot of hot air.”




Scottish Government to consult on impact of halving, and then removing, APD

The Scottish government intends to remove Air Passenger Duty (APD) from flights departing from Scottish airports, in the hope of attracting more flights. Scottish ministers hope cutting APD would encourage more direct flights from Scotland and reduce the need for connecting flights via Heathrow and Amsterdam. Air travel is already very under-taxed, paying no VAT and no fuel duty. The Scottish Government says it will halve APD during the Scottish Parliament’s next term, which will run until around 2020. That will mean about £200 million in lost tax to the government, and the Scottish government has to reimburse the UK Treasury. Scottish ministers want APD cut completely “when public finances permit.” There is to be a new policy forum to look into the implications of removing or reducing APD, and a policy consultation this autumn. The forum will include some environmental groups, as well as aviation lobbies. There would be increased CO2 emissions from Scottish aviation if there was a 50% cut in APD, and even more so with no APD. The Scottish government will have to explain “which other sectors of society will pick up the shortfall and at what cost.” More cheap holiday flights for Scottish people is likely to increase the tourism deficit, with more money flowing out than is brought in by in-bound tourists.

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