MPs provide backing to airport’s tax campaign

Robert Sinclair (left) has overseen a lot of expansion in recent years but fears devolving air passe

Robert Sinclair (left) has overseen a lot of expansion in recent years but fears devolving air passenger duty for Wales could have a big effect on its operation. - Credit: Archant

Bristol Airport’s campaign to stop air passenger duty (APD) tax being devolved for Wales has been backed by 30 South West MPs.

The MPs, which include North Somerset’s Liam Fox, have written to the Government this week to raise their concerns of what might happen to regional airports such as Bristol if different parts of the UK have different rules.

The Welsh Government wants to have the power to set its own tax rules for air travel and would most likely scrap it, if given the power by Westminster.

That would mean passengers flying from Bristol would have to pay APD, whereas travellers on the other side of the Servern Bridge would not.

Dr Fox has warned that devolving APD could have a ‘toxic’ effect on the regional air travel industry, particularly in the South West.

Bristol Airport chiefs have campaigned for years to prevent the switch happening and Chancellor George Osborne could devolve the power this week.

Its chief executive said: “If this tax is devolved to Wales and scrapped, we will be put at a significant commercial disadvantage to Cardiff Airport, which is owned by the Welsh Government and less than 100km away from Bristol Airport. Even if limited to long-haul flights, there would a significant impact on more than 100,000 passengers who use European hubs and it would jeopardise plans to launch direct long-haul flights in the near future.

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“We expect competition in the aviation industry, but that competition needs to be on a level playing field. Distorting this market will mean less choice and increased costs for people in the South West when going on holiday or doing business overseas.”

The airport’s argument has been backed by 30 South West MPs.

Dr Fox said: “The South West is set to lose out massively if this tax on flying is devolved to Wales.

“The toxic combination of less consumer choice, job losses and reduced economic activity is simply not acceptable and I am today calling on the Government to halt this measure.”