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Air Passenger Duty cut would save a family of four up to £194 every time they fly.
Scottish holidaymakers will pay half as much as their English and Welsh counterparts in air tax should the country vote for independence, Keith Brown, the transport minister, has confirmed.
Mr Brown said Air Passenger Duty (APD), paid by all air passengers travelling from a British airport, including inbound tourists on their flight home, was hindering the economy, and would be cut by 50 per cent in Scotland, with a view to abolishing it altogether.
The move would save a family of four up to £194 every time they fly, and has the backing of the country’s three largest airports – Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.
“Travellers flying to and from Scotland this Christmas should be looking forward to seeing family and friends, not worrying about the cost of this unfair tax,” said Mr Brown.
“It''s clear that the current APD situation puts Scotland at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to attracting visitors and businesses from overseas.It''s the most expensive aviation duty in Europe, adding significantly to the cost of flying to and from Scotland.
“Airlines and airports repeatedly cite the UK''s APD as one of the major obstacles when it comes to securing new routes, as well as maintaining existing ones."
In his Autumn Statement last week, George Osborne, the Chancellor, ignored pleas from the travel industry to freeze or cut the tax, and confirmed that it would rise again – for the sixth time in as many years – next April.
The rises will increase the cost of medium- and long-haul flights (see table below). A family of four travelling in economy to Egypt, the US or Canada, for example, will be forced to pay £276 in APD, up from £268. A family of four flying to the Caribbean, Thailand or India will pay £340, up from £332. One heading farther afield, to Australia or Argentina, for example, must contribute £388, up from £376.
Rates have soared since 1994, when APD was introduced. Then, passengers paid £5 per person to fly to short-haul destinations and £10 to travel farther afield.
Should Scotland vote for independence and go ahead with the cut in APD, it could encourage those living in northern England to fly from Edinburgh or Glasgow airports, rather than English ones.
A similar situation arose in Northern Ireland, where many chose to fly to the US via Dublin, instead of Belfast, putting the city’s solitary transatlantic route under threat. In response, the Northern Irish Assembly scrapped APD entirely on long-haul services.
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