Highland Council supports UK Air Passenger Duty exemption for flights departing Highlands & Islands
Highland Councillors have unanimously agreed that the Council will support the continuation of the exemption from UK Air Passenger Duty for flights departing from airports in the Highlands & Islands; and Members also agreed that the Council will continue working with HiTRANS to present the case of the need for, and benefit arising from an exemption from the current UK Air Passenger Duty and any successor duty.
The Council’s stance comes this week as calls have been made by Aberdeen Airport for greater parity with Highlands & Islands.
Members were informed in a report to a meeting of The Highland Council today (27 June) that the Scottish Government announced on 7 May 2019 that reducing the Air Departure Tax was no longer compatible with Scotland’s new emissions reduction targets. The Scottish Government confirmed that they have agreed with the UK Government that the introduction of the Air Departure Tax would be deferred beyond April 2020 to ensure it was properly devolved and that a solution was found to the Highlands and Islands exemption to protect rural communities.
The Scottish Government have advised that "Air connectivity is critical for the Highlands and Islands, and our position on the existing exemption is unchanged - it must remain in place to protect remote and rural communities." The Scottish Government therefore have committed to continue to work with the UK Government and the Air Departure Tax Highlands and Islands Working Group to find a solution. In the meantime, the UK Government will maintain the application of Air Passenger Duty in Scotland, including the exemption for Highlands and Islands.
Convener Cllr Bill Lobban said: “The Highlands must remain affordable and competitive in its air connections with the rest of the world. Air links are vital to business and tourism and good connectivity is fundamental to building a thriving rural economy.”
Cllr Andrew Jarvie added: “It’s taken three decades of hard work to get Inverness airport the connectivity it has with six daily flights to global hubs – you can fly from Inverness to any continent in the world with one ticket and one stop. This has opened Inverness to the world and any threat would only take us backwards.”