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Bristol Airport calls for action on Air Passenger Duty

Created: 8th Sep 2015

Regional economies at risk without action to mitigate cuts in Scotland and Wales.


Bristol Airport has joined forces with seven other English regional airports to urge the Government to ensure they are not negatively impacted by the potential devolution of Air Passenger Duty (APD) to Scotland and Wales.

Last week the Scottish Government confirmed it would reduce APD by 50 per cent from 2018 following devolution of powers over aviation tax as part of the Scotland Bill, while the UK Government made a commitment to consider the case for devolving APD to Wales as part of the St David’s Day Agreement earlier this year.

In response to a Treasury consultation looking at options to support English regional airports from the impact of devolution of APD, Bristol Airport has set out the significant impacts devolution to Wales in particular would have on its business. Research suggests that up to 33 routes and one million passengers could be lost, with the resulting impact on the West of England economy totalling up to £843 million in GVA and more than 1,500 jobs over the next decade. A preferential rate of APD in Wales would also jeopardise Bristol’s ambitions for direct long-haul services and put the Airport’s major investment programme at risk.

However, the impacts of APD devolution to Wales would not be limited to the South West (or the North East in the case of Scotland). Because airports compete for airlines and routes with competitors across the UK and Europe, not just those in the same or neighbouring regions, the effects of devolution will be felt at regional airports across England. For this reason, airports in the North, the Midlands and the South East have teamed up to sign a joint letter to the Chancellor expressing their shared concerns on this issue.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive Officer at Bristol Airport, said
“It is important that English regions do not lose out in the dash to devolve more powers to Scotland and Wales. Regional airports play a vital role in supporting their local economies by connecting people and businesses with the world. With a fair and consistent tax regime in place we can do even more to help rebalance the economy.

“Matching any future reductions in Scotland or Wales across the UK would ensure a level playing field. But, short of this, our modelling suggests that lowering APD at English regional airports would mitigate the negative impacts of devolution and provide a boost for regional economies at the same time.”

Bristol Airport served 6.3m passengers in 2014, including more than one million flying to or from Wales. The vast majority (80 per cent) of Welsh passengers use airports in England, with Bristol being a more convenient option than Cardiff Airport for some areas of South Wales.

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 a £24 million west terminal extension which will open next summer. 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.

Earlier this year 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.