Airport demands action on air taxes
Ryanair axes 20 Glasgow routes and shuts base
Ryanair says Edinburgh has more inbound customers
Glasgow Airport has demanded an immediate cut in aviation taxes after budget airline Ryanair announced it was closing its base and reducing the number of flights from 23 to three.
Five routes will be transferred to Edinburgh and the airline says 300 jobs could be lost at Inchinnan.
Chief commercial officer David O’Brien said Edinburgh has a stronger “inbound component” than Glasgow.
The airport could lose about 500,000 passengers as a result of the decision which has raised alarm in the business community.
Mr O’Brien blamed the decision on Air Passenger Duty [known as air departure tax in Scotland], but also said Brexit was a threat to Scottish tourism and the airline industry.
From this winter Ryanair will only fly to Dublin, Krakow and Wroclaw from Glasgow while it will operate 45 routes from Edinburgh including 11 new routes.
An airport spokesman said: “We are bitterly disappointed at this decision by Ryanair which is not only damaging for Glasgow and wider Scottish connectivity, it will impact approximately 100 jobs locally.
“This is a result of the airline’s review of its single aircraft bases. However, we have been left in no doubt that it is also a consequence of the Scottish Government’s inability to introduce its proposed 50% cut in Air Departure Tax.
“Despite clear and repeated warnings from both airports and airlines about the potential impact of this policy not being implemented, we are now face with a stark scenario that includes the loss of 20 services and a significant number of jobs.
“This is the second example in as many months of an airline cutting capacity in Scotland because of a lack of movement on ADT.
“The reality is this capacity will be reallocated elsewhere in Europe to countries with more favourable aviation taxation policies to Scotland’s detriment. We cannot sit back and risk Scotland’s connectivity being further eroded.
“It is imperative there is immediate action on ADT.”
Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said: “We’re extremely disappointed by this announcement and our immediate concern is for the people whose jobs may be affected as a result.
“Glasgow Airport has undergone a period of significant growth so to hear a carrier is choosing to reduce its services is quite surprising. The city’s hotel occupancy figures reaffirm this level of traffic, with Glasgow sitting above London in terms of percentage of total full rooms.
“The economic uncertainty and weak position of the pound as a result of Brexit are both major contributing factors to this decision.
“Looking ahead, it reinforces the absolute necessity for the Scottish Government to deliver on Air Passenger Duty promises, which have unfortunately stalled.
“This policy stagnation needs to be addressed urgently if we are to remain competitive, attract more visitors and deliver inclusive growth in the West of Scotland. Twenty air routes have been lost overnight because of this delay and we don’t want to see any more.
“We must redouble our efforts behind the ambitious plans for visitor growth, including full backing for the airport’s route development strategy and swift decisions to support important investment plans like those for the next phase of the SEC – sustaining Glasgow’s world-class offering.”
Liz Cameron, director & chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said the decision “reflects the wider uncertain economic environment” and called for “Scotland’s respective governments to work at speed to remove the barriers that exist in making use of Air Departure Tax and implementing the reduction that will unlock growth opportunities. “