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Loganair’s air duty plea

Loganair managing director Jonathan Hinkles - Photo: Shetland News

LOGANAIR managing director Jonathan Hinkles has urged the Scottish Government to consider scrapping air passenger duty (APD) on all flights to the Highlands and Islands as soon as possible.

He told the Scottish Parliament’s finance and constitution committee on Wednesday that ministers should start looking into to shelving the levy when the government gets responsibility for the tax in April next year.

There is already a tax exemption for flights leaving the Highlands and Islands, but Hinkles called on the government to extend that to all flights travelling into the region.

The government is expected to replace APD with air departure tax next year and cut costs by around half before abolishing the levy all together when finances allow.

“We believe there is a compelling case for the present tax exemption on flights from the Highlands and Islands to be reciprocated to cover departures from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen to those very same points,” Hinkles said.

“Abolishing air passenger duty on flights to the islands, well before the eventual abolition of the tax for all air services in Scotland, will make a real and immediate difference to families, tourism and businesses alike.”

He also said it would create greater parity between offshore workers flying by helicopter direct from Aberdeen and passengers travelling to Shetland to then heading offshore, with the latter currently facing extra APD costs.

However, the Scottish Greens said the SNP minority government’s policy on air departure tax had no chance to be passed in parliament.

“It’s entirely clear that the Scottish Government has no clue about the economic impact from its policy, the impact on the Scottish budget, or the environmental impact,” the party’s economy spokesman Patrick Harvie said.

“Not only that, they appear to have no policy on how much they think aviation emissions can be allowed to grow in the future.

“It should be no surprise that the aviation industry, motivated by its own profits, is relying on flimsy and out of date research to argue for a big tax break.”

At the moment, short-haul flights in the UK are subject to APD of £13 for economy tickets and £26 for other classes.