Get our airlines off the ground!

By Braiden Smith

Since its introduction in 1994 Air Passenger Duty, or APD, has strangled the wallets of consumers and airlines alike. By hiking up prices on flights for all passengers, APD has stifled the British aviation industry’s capability to compete with their rivals. With the future we are heading into let us get rid of this punitive tax and get passengers flying again!

 For those that are unaware APD is the tax placed on tickets based upon the distance and class of travel. As a result, passengers of long-haul flights can expect to pay a minimum of £78 on top of the original price and those in the top rate, an extra £515.

This has driven travellers away from flying directly from British airports with many choosing to fly long haul from Dutch or Irish airports where no such tax is in place. It’s estimated that through a 50% reduction in APD that Scotland alone would see an additional 18 million passengers travel through our airports, 10,000 new jobs created and an extra £300 million generated each year from across different sections of the Scottish economy.

It is because of APD an estimated 45% of would be travellers are discouraged from flying every year. So, with these numbers in mind and the current economic climate, it is absolutely paramount that we abolish this tax and take the necessary steps to rebuild, protect, and grow the aviation sector and the wider economy.

However, despite this, some will shriek of the environmental impact aviation has, and that this tax was introduced to offset the impact the sector has on our environment. Of course, we must take steps to protect the environment but to argue that APD does so, is absurd.

Even with APD in place air travel has slowly increased year on year until the pandemic with consumers choosing to fly to the States via Dublin and Asia via the European continent. The levy only makes air travel more inaccessible to lower income families and tightening their purse strings.

Furthermore, this tax does nothing to incentivise airlines to use newer, more efficient aircraft. Something that would actually make a difference to the environmental impact flying has while still allowing consumers to fly. There is nothing to encourage airlines to move to newer aircraft like Airbus’ new Neo line or Boeing’s Max aircraft when they are still going to be slapped down with the same tax.

If APD is to be kept then at least we must reform it with its basis being the aircraft. We can support and encourage airlines to adopt greener aircraft and practices and end the penalisation of families that save up all year for a couple weeks of respite in the sun.