UK Airline CEOs write to Scottish Parliament Committee Chair to emphasise support for Air Departure Tax reduction

February 28th, 2017


The Chief Executives of some of the UK’s largest airlines have re-emphasised their support for a 50% reduction in the Air Departure Tax in Scotland.

In the same week that the Scottish Finance Minister, Derek Mackay MSP, appears in front of the Scottish Parliament Finance Committee (29th February) to explain to MSPs how and when such a reduction will be brought into force, the Chief Executives of Flybe, Thomas Cook, Thomson Airways and Virgin Atlantic, have written to Bruce Crawford MSP, Chair of the Committee, to set out their reasons for supporting more competitive aviation taxes in Scotland.

Excerpts from the letter include the following:

  • “There is no doubt that APD is damaging to Scotland and places it at a competitive disadvantage which acts as a real barrier to trade and investment. A 50% reduction in the rate of the new ADT for all routes would improve Scotland’s world standing in terms of both short and long-haul travel. Globally, for Band A economy Scotland would rank ninth highest amongst OECD countries, behind the rest of the UK, Greece, Italy and Chile. Scotland would rank second for Band B economy, behind England and Wales, however its rate would be much more in line with the equivalent rates for Germany, Australia and Austria.”
  • “This lower passenger tax would certainly make Scotland a more attractive place for airlines to add capacity, delivering new routes and more services.”
  • “We recognise that growth must go hand in hand with actions to cut global CO2 emissions from all journeys by half of their 2005 levels by 2050 – a key industry target. We are on target to meet that goal – having collectively reduced our emissions by 20 million tonnes since 2005. This has largely been achieved through the introduction of more than 470 cleaner, fuel efficient aircraft into service over the past decade, with orders placed for another 400. UK Government data shows that in 2015, jet fuel deliveries to UK airports, for UK and non-UK airline operations, were 10% lower than in 2006, despite 20.9 million more air passengers being carried. In other words, from 2006 to 2014, growth in UK aviation was delivered without any increase in CO2 emissions.”
  • “In a post-Brexit world we believe positive action on aviation taxation would send a clear message that Scotland is open for business and ready to welcome the world. This would represent a massive boost to the Scottish tourism industry and airlines are ready and keen to respond with new routes and substantial increased investment.”

Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, the industry body that represents UK airlines, said: “At a time when competitor nations are busy reducing or abolishing their own versions of the Air Departure Tax – including Ireland, which has seen a surge in new routes and passengers since it took action to make its airports more competitive – it makes little sense for Scotland to continue to put itself at a disadvantage by levying such sky-high taxes on aviation.

“The airline sector has been clear that taking action on ADT will make a big difference to businesses and families – and provide a welcome boost to the Scottish tourism industry. Our members would see Scotland – a key market for them already – as an even more attractive destination to add capacity and put on new routes. Importantly, this could also be done in a way that is environmentally sustainable – thanks to the huge and continuing investment airlines are making in cleaner, quieter aircraft and the ambitious carbon reduction targets the industry – encompassing airlines, airports, manufacturers and others – has signed up to.”

Notes to Editors

Signatories to the letter include:

  • Christine Ourmieres-Widener, Chief Executive of Flybe
  • Peter Fankhauser, Chief Executive of Thomas Cook Group
  • John Murphy, Managing Director of Thomson Airways
  • Craig Kreeger, Chief Executive of Virgin Atlantic Airways
  • Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK