The next step must be for the Scottish Government detail and timetable of their long promised cut to APD
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- The next step must be for the Scottish Government detail and timetable of their long promised cut to APD
Politics in the UK and in Scotland has rarely been more febrile. The lines that once divided the left and right are faint and voters are less predictable than they might once have been.
Those of us trying to make sense of it all must always be on our toes, alive to the threats and primed to make the most of the opportunities.
For business, it is no longer simply about profit and delivering for shareholders. There is a broader social purpose required, in terms of jobs, employment security and the engagement and treatment of employees and customers.
It is into this context that Edinburgh Airport – for which I am Chief Executive – makes the case for a reduction in Air Passenger Duty (APD). We believe this to be a heavy handed tax that ill serves an island nation on the western edge of Europe.
APD is a tax on getting to and from Scotland, and we need to better reflect on whether that is a good thing for our people and our tourism industry.
A one move 50 per cent reduction of APD by the Scottish Government will see budget carriers like Ryanair and easyJet expand their services in and out of Scotland.
That’s not Edinburgh Airport’s view – that is a solid declaration from these two airlines.
And that’s just the airlines that have quantified their commitment - others will surely follow.
Crucially APD fees are a huge disincentive for airlines that see Scotland as having a restrictive tax regime – it limits the opportunities of domestic businesses and hampers global businesses’ trade and investment opportunities here.
Visit Scotland has taken the bold and commendable step to highlight the great gains that cutting APD will bring – most notably a domestic tourism boom, the creation of jobs and opportunities for investment.
In recent weeks the UK government has revised the Chinese bilateral agreement, an arrangement from a previous era aimed at protecting flag-carrier airlines. This raises the number of links allowed and gives space for direct connections to flourish.
This move will go some way to maximising connectivity to this huge and growing economy to harvest the enormous opportunities for trade and tourism.
The next step – one which could be pivotal in helping to deliver a vital direct link between China and Scotland and other long haul routes – is the Scottish Government detailing and timetabling their long promised cut to APD.
The Scottish Government and politicians across the chamber were unequivocal in its support in Heathrow’s successful bid for a third runway. Now our government must act, using the powers at its disposal, to demonstrate that it is totally committed to backing the growth of Scottish airports and inbound tourism and trade.