Cut air tax in Wales, recommends a new Government report

According to a new Government report from the cross-party Silk Commission, the National Assembly for Wales should have the opportunity to ditch Air Passenger Duty (APD) on long-haul flights.  The Silk Commission has recommended delegating a series of taxation powers to the Assembly, including APD on long-haul flights for passengers departing from British airports.

Cardiff International Airport issued a statement; “We welcome the report from the Silk Commission, in particular the recommendation to devolve responsibility for long-haul APD to Wales.  The ability to control long-haul APD rates is just one tool in the armoury we have to improve air passenger services to and from Wales, and increase passenger traffic.”

Much criticised by industry personnel and the average British Family, as well as foreign holidaymakers to the British shores who have to pay the tax to return to their own country, thereby having a detrimental effect on the economies of countries that rely on tourism, this latest Government report will certainly heighten the UK’s overall campaign to have APD scrapped, particularly on long-haul flights out of the country.

After the recent rise in April of this year, a family of four flying to Europe now has to pay £52 in tax; if you are travelling to more far out countries, the US or the Caribbean, your tax bill could be as much as £324, or higher if you are visiting Australia… and that’s just Economy class!  APD has a knock-on effect on airlines, too, who think twice before launching a new route.

APD has seriously affected passenger footfall through Britain’s regional airports; in 2006, 2 million passengers passed through Cardiff airport – APD was just £5 per person for flights to Europe, and £20 per person for countries outside of Europe; in 2011, 1.2 million passengers travelled via Cardiff airport… a significant reduction, however how much of that is due to the financial crisis from 2009 is not reported.

But the Silk Commission’s recommendations haven’t been so welcome from neighbouring airports, with the suggestion that a cut in APD would threaten jobs, growth and connectivity in the South West.  Bristol Airport went as far as saying, “Even when restricted to direct long-haul flights, a price advantage in Wales would put vital services from nearby English airports to European hubs at risk and severely undermine the business case for long-haul services from Bristol to the USA and Middle East.”

Whatever the final outcome, without doubt the Commission’s report and recommendations and increased activity in the hornet’s nest!

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