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Bristol Airport welcomes review of APD devolution and options for regional airports in England

Created: 27th Feb 2015

Following today’s announcement of new devolved powers for Wales, Bristol Airport has welcomed the opportunity to present further evidence on the detrimental effects of devolving Air Passenger Duty (APD) as part of a review of potential options to mitigate the impact on regional airports.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive Officer at Bristol Airport, said

“We welcome this commitment to properly consider the implications of APD devolution on regional airports in England including options for variation of rates within England to assist regional airports such as Bristol. We are confident that the Government will reach the right conclusion when all the evidence is considered ensuring that regional airports are not disadvantaged by APD devolution and can play their full part in helping to rebalance the economy.

“Without similar measures for regional airports in England, devolution of APD to Wales would contradict the principle that there should be no detriment to other parts of the UK. It would simply result in the redistribution of passengers from Bristol and other English airports to Cardiff, but with no benefit to UK plc, severely distorting the open and competitive market for air travel which currently delivers choice and value for passengers.

“By not rushing into this decision on APD, the Government now has the opportunity to fully consider the significant cross-border implications that devolution of this tax would create and put in place a framework that could benefit all regions of the UK. We are confident that after the proper process has been followed a fair solution will be found, ending uncertainty and ensuring Bristol Airport can continue to enhance its facilities for the benefit of passengers and businesses on both sides of the border.”

“Reflecting our commitment to serving the people of Wales, we are delighted to announce today that National Express will commence a 12-times daily coach service between Bristol Airport and Cardiff next month, making our route network even more accessible for people and businesses in South Wales.”

Bristol Airport served 6.3m passengers in 2014, including more than one million flying to or from Wales. Unlike Scotland, where the Smith Commission recommended APD should be devolved, Wales has only one international airport – Cardiff – which is under Welsh Government ownership. The vast majority (80 per cent) of Welsh passengers use airports in England, with Bristol being a more convenient option for some areas of South Wales.

Analysis by York Aviation suggests up to 33 routes could be lost from Bristol Airport’s network as a result of airlines relocating aircraft to Wales to take advantage of a more favourable tax regime. Modelling by HMRC shows that if APD was devolved there would be a five-fold increase in passengers at Cardiff Airport by the end of the decade, with a 25 per cent fall in passengers at Bristol Airport over the same period, as well as a significant negative impact on Birmingham Airport. Estimates of the flow-on effects to the regional economy suggest up to £843m in GVA and 1,500 jobs would be lost in the West of England as a result.

Planning permission is in place to develop and enhance facilities to enable Bristol Airport to serve 10 million passengers per annum. Work is currently underway on an £8.6m eastern terminal extension, improvements to car parks, and the construction of a 201 room Hampton by Hilton hotel. Beyond the Airport boundary, improvements to the transport system across the West of England, including the construction of a South Bristol Link, are underway and will enhance access from the north, east and west once completed in winter 2016.

Last month Bristol was named the world’s most punctual Airport in a league table measuring on-time performance compiled by leading global aviation provider OAG based on more than 43 million flight records.

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