Maureen’s Matters - Damaging Scotland’s competitiveness

Across Europe only five countries still levy a tax on departing air passengers.

The UK is one of these, with passengers leaving from Scotland contributing some £200 million to the Treasury in the last year.

It is widely regarded that this tax not only damages Scotland’s competitiveness in the business world, but it prevents our hugely important tourism sector from enjoying even greater success while hitting hard-working families who are travelling abroad too.

The Scottish Government has been clear in its support of a reduction in Air Passenger Duty, followed by its eventual abolition, and this view has now been backed by Aberdeen International Airport.

Indeed, I was pleased to read that AIA, along with both Edinburgh and Glasgow Airport, have made a joint submission to this effect to the Smith Commission; which is currently looking into what further powers will be bestowed upon our Parliament following the referendum.

Although Air Passenger Duty was devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2012, who immediately set rates at £0, the UK Government has so far proved unwilling to transfer this power to the Scottish Parliament. The Smith Commission affords them the opportunity to alter this stance, and it is one which I fully expect to be taken.

However, while the devolution to the Scottish Parliament of Air Passenger Duty is fundamentally important, the people of Scotland have been promised so much more on top of this and it is imperative that we hold Westminster to account. A vow was made, and it cannot be broken.

Therefore, just as our nation’s leading airports have made their views known to the Smith Commission on this important issue, I would encourage each and every reader to do likewise via haveyoursay@smith-commission.scot.