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Bristol Airport will be 'more competitive' if air passenger duty is devolved to Wales, says First Minister

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Written by: Hannah Baker | Posted 02 November 2017 14:39

Bristol Airport will be 'more competitive' if air passenger duty is devolved to Wales, says First Minister

First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones is calling on the UK Government to give Wales control over flight tax as new research reveals the impact on Bristol would be ‘negligible’.

The amount of tax paid on flights (APD) for Welsh customers is currently set by the UK Government, while Scotland and Northern Ireland are able to cut the cost of longer-haul flights by reducing APD.

The Government has so far resisted calls from Wales, saying any reduction in APD would negatively impact Bristol Airport.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “This new evidence dispels many myths and presents an economic case for giving Wales control over Air Passenger Duty which is overwhelmingly compelling.

“Once devolved, the Welsh Government would reduce or even scrap the tax paid on flights – not only benefitting passengers, but providing a huge confidence boost for Cardiff Airport and Wales’ aviation industry, while also complementing Bristol Airport and providing a more competitive service." 

The first scheduled long-haul flights will commence from Cardiff Airport next spring, with a daily service to Doha in the Middle East from Qatar Airways.

A devolution of the tax, with the aim of abolishing the £75 rate on all long-haul flights and seeking a significant reduction on the other bands, would make Cardiff Airport airport even more attractive to airlines.

It would also make the cost of flights for passengers at Cardiff Airport, currently standing at around 1.3 million a year, cheaper.

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Bristol Airport has said a “level playing field on rates of APD remains vital”.

Following the return of direct long-haul flights to Florida and Mexico this summer and the announcement of flights to the Dominican Republic in 2018, Bristol Airport has reaffirmed its ambitions to secure further long-haul routes.

Currently, more than 100,000 passengers travel between Bristol and long-haul destinations via major international hubs including Amsterdam, Brussels, Dublin, Frankfurt and Munich operated by carriers such as Aer Lingus, Brussels Airlines, KLM and bmi regional.

Nigel Scott, business development director at Bristol Airport, said: “The strong short-haul network available from Bristol is a real asset to the region we serve, but we know businesses in the South West are also looking beyond Europe for new opportunities to trade.

“That is why we are working hard with existing airline partners to increase the frequency of services to major hubs, as well as exploring the potential for more direct long-haul services east and west.”

Bristol Airport has invested more than £160m in new infrastructure and facilities since 2010, and is the only major UK airport to have increased passengers every year since 2009.

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