Calls grow for extension of air passenger duty exemption for the Highlands and islands

Written by Peter Urpeth on 9 May 2019 in News

Extension of passenger duty exemption could boost local economy and lower emissions, claims airline

Image credit: Ronnie Robertson, via Flickr

Loganair is calling on the Scottish Government to extend the existing exemption from Air Passenger Duty (APD) to cover flights from mainland airports to the Highlands and islands.

Under current rules, passengers flying from Highlands and islands airports are exempt from the duty, and now the airline wants to see that exemption applied to include inward flights to the region.

On Tuesday, the Scottish Government announced that its was abandoning planned cuts to the Air Departure Tax (ADT) as part of its efforts to meet new emissions targets, but Loganair is claiming that flights on some routes to island airports can have a smaller emissions foot print than a similar journey by car and ferry.

Glasgow-based regional airline Loganair serves airports across the Highlands and islands region, and commenting on the Scottish Government’s U-turn on ADT, managing director Jonathan Hinkles said: “As this is now purely an environmental debate, we’re calling on the Scottish Government to introduce an APD exemption for flights from mainland airports to the Highlands and Islands, reciprocating the exemption for incoming flights that already exists. 

“The emissions for a car with two passengers from Glasgow to Ullapool and then ferry from Ullapool to Stornoway are higher than for a typical passenger flight from Glasgow to Stornoway.  As the Government appears keen to use tax policy to further its environmental aims, it should immediately act to remove APD from all flights to Scotland’s islands on this basis.”

Loganair’s call for the new exemption were echoed by the chair of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Transportation Committee, Cllr Uisdean Robertson, who said: “With the Scottish Government deciding against the removal of APD in favour of a more environmentally friendly air services policy, I would urge the Government to consider extending the APD for flights to the islands.

“This would provide an economic boost for business in the islands, particularly in the tourism sector and would also ease the pressure on already overburdened ferry services.”

Responding to Loganair’s call, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government agrees with the importance of the Highlands and Islands exemption and planned to implement if the tax had been devolved in a fit condition.

“We will continue to work with the UK Government to find a solution to ensure that future parliaments can decide on the best policy for Scotland’s interests in line with our climate ambitions.”

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