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Cut 'would boost growth'

Tax blamed for Scotland trailing in air routes

Norwegian operates direct flights from Scotland

New calls to cut airline taxes have emerged after a report revealed that Scotland lags behind its European competitor nations in the number of short-haul, long-haul and direct air connections.

Airlines and travel companies are urging the Scottish Parliament to support a 50% reduction in aviation taxes to create more opportunities for growth in new and existing routes.

They claim that cutting tax will provide an economic boost to the country and demonstrate that Scotland is “open for business”.

The report – which was commissioned from consultancy RDC by aviation and travel associations Airlines UK and ABTA – compares Scotland to ten similar sized European nations in terms of the number of countries and destinations served.

It found that Scotland ranks 10th in terms of countries served, ahead of only Iceland which has a population 1/20th the size of Scotland’s.

Two competitor countries – Ireland and Norway – are smaller in terms of population but have measurably greater connectivity than Scotland.

Scotland’s weakest area is in direct long-haul connectivity, where it ranks 11th out of 11 in terms of the number of destinations served (11), and joint 9th in terms of the number of countries served (5).

Scotland’s strongest area is in its indirect connectivity, where it has services to a reasonable number of European and Middle Eastern hub airports (8), which in turn facilitate services to a large number of global destinations. 

With respect to direct short-haul connectivity, Scotland ranks 10th out of 11 in terms of countries served with direct services (30) and 7th out of 11 in terms of destinations served (120).

The report also found that Scotland has by far the highest air passenger taxes of the 11 countries analysed, and of the 10 other countries only one levies a tax greater than 1/10th of that levied in Scotland.

Airlines UK and ABTA support the stated policy of the Scottish Government to reduce air departure tax by 50% from April 2018, and abolish the tax when economic circumstances allow.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said: “Scottish airports and the airlines operating from them have done a great job in increasing the number of countries and destinations served in recent years – and this has been borne out by the record growth that we have witnessed.

“That said, it is clear from the report that more can be done to ensure Scotland reaches its full potential and better competes with its European rivals.

“It is our view that reducing ADT will make Scotland a more attractive place for airlines to add capacity, delivering new routes and more services.”

Edinburgh airport

Edinburgh Airport: industry is hamstrung

A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport said: “This new report backs up what we have consistently said – Scotland’s aviation industry is hamstrung by what airlines see as a restrictive tax regime, and that must change if we were to unleash the true potential that it has.

“We are adding more and more routes and handling more passengers than ever before, and while this tremendous growth is welcomed by the Scottish Government, we continue to come up against a headwind that restricts the industry’s desire to grow and establish a level playing field with our European competitors.

“The Scottish Government must deliver on its promise to half Air Passenger Duty if we are to deliver that economic growth for the benefit of the whole country.

“Airports, airlines and travel companies are ready to seize the opportunity and position Scotland as a growth market and bring more tourism and business to the country, but the government must show leadership and the same enthusiasm if we are to succeed.”


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