Newcastle airport warns Cameron over APD devolution

The boss of Newcastle airport has written to Prime Minister David Cameron warning of the dangers to English regional airports if Scotland is allowed to cut Air Passenger Duty.

“The consequences of unmatched reductions in Scotland would be so serious that ‘do nothing’ continues to be simply not an option,” said David Laws, chief executive of the north-east airport.

His warning came as the Scottish government confirmed plans to start consulting on cutting the air tax in Scotland from 2018.

Laws said: “We maintain the view that the government should commit now to matching reductions in Scotland across the whole country.

“If this is not possible, then our view is that the second of the options in last year’s APD discussion paper – the varying of rates within England – is the most preferable and the least inequitable.

“A failure to act now would break the promise made in 2015 to protect English regional airports.”

Planning and corporate affairs director, Graeme Mason, added: “We have been asked whether an alternative approach, a system of APD ‘holidays’ for new air services, would be a possible solution.

“Our strong view is that such an arrangement would not address the threat that we face, and would in fact make matters even worse by concentrating new routes at larger airports further south.”

The Scottish government has launched a consultation seeking views on how a Scottish replacement to APD should be structured and operated from April 1, 2018, which will subsequently reduce the tax by 50%.
Meanwhile, a Liverpool John Lennon Airport spokesperson welcomed the consultation, saying: “If there are to be cuts in APD of 50% at airports in Scotland, then these need to be matched elsewhere across the UK.

“We would hope that sense will prevail and that the UK government would subsequently ensure a consistent charging regime across all parts of the UK, so as not to put airports such as Liverpool at a disadvantage compared to those in Scotland, and to airports across Europe where aviation taxes are already significantly lower than in the UK.”