Air departure tax U-turn sparks anger from aviation industry and tourism firms

Aviation industry representatives and tourism organisations have jointly requested an urgent meeting with Nicola Sturgeon after the Scottish Government’s U-turn on a new air departure tax.

Earlier this month, ministers scrapped plans to halve the amount of tax paid by passengers flying from Scottish airports then decided to scrap the cuts entirely.

The Scottish Government said the decision was made as the plans were no longer in line with tougher proposed climate targets to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2045.

In their letter to the First Minister, the organisations argue the tax decision will “do nothing to further that goal” but will worsen Scotland’s connectivity.

The signatories – AGS, the company behind Aberdeen and Glasgow Airports; Edinburgh Airport; CBI Scotland; the Scottish Chambers of Commerce; the Scottish Council of Development and Industry, and the Scottish Tourism Alliance – criticised the lack of consultation on scrapping the air departure tax (ADT) plans.

The letter states: “All of us share your ambitions for Scotland to become a carbon neutral economy by 2045, however, this decision will do nothing to further that goal.

“Aviation is a global industry and therefore requires international action to reduce global CO2 emissions.

“In the UK, the aviation industry has already decoupled growth in aviation from growth in emissions and is investing billions of pounds in developing new sustainable aviation fuels for cleaner and quieter aircraft.”

Scotland’s air connectivity lags behind similar-sized European countries, the letter continues, and questions how the Scottish Government plans to reconcile its ambitions to boost international connectivity to grow the economy and attract investors and tourists with the policy change.

The letter states: “It is difficult to see how this can now be achieved in light of the sudden reversal in policy which will serve to further exacerbate our connectivity deficit.

“Our airports are already reporting a loss of routes and the promised cut in ADT would have provided airlines with the confidence required to invest in Scotland.

“Given the lack of consultation ahead of the decision on ADT and the lack of recognition of the huge steps the aviation industry is taking to tackle CO2 emissions, we are requesting a joint meeting to better understand how the Scottish Government can support an industry that has such an important role to play in strengthening Scotland’s global standing.”