Ryanair has announced it will close its Glasgow International base from November 2018, due to the burden of Air Passenger Duty (APD).
The SNP Government supports halving APD and eventually its abolition. To this end, the Air Departure Tax (Scotland) Bill was passed in June 2017.
However, the UK Tory Government not only placed unacceptable conditions on notifying the exemption of Highlands and Islands airports to the European Commission; it also refused to adjust Scotland’s block grant to make up for the £320 million the SNP Government would forego to match the exemption for all Highland and Island flights including connecting flights.
When Finance Secretary Derek Mackay called on the UK Government to act in line with the fiscal framework to ensure no detriment to Scotland as a result of costs required to enable the tax to be fully devolved, the UK Government simply suggested delaying the transfer of the tax indefinitely.
Ryanair’s Chief Commercial Officer, David O’Brien commented:
“Ryanair regrets these cuts in the weaker Glasgow market where efforts to stimulate low fare demand are severely hampered by the continuing burden of APD.”
A spokesman for Glasgow Airport said:
“We are bitterly disappointed at this decision by Ryanair which is not only damaging for Glasgow and wider Scottish connectivity it will impact approximately 100 jobs locally.
“Despite clear and repeated warnings from both airports and airlines about the potential impact of this policy not being implemented, we are now faced with a stark scenario that includes the loss of 20 services and a significant number of jobs.
“This is the second example in as many months of an airline cutting capacity in Scotland because of the lack of movement on APD. The reality is this capacity will be reallocated elsewhere in Europe to countries with more favourable aviation taxation policies to Scotland’s detriment. We cannot sit back and risk Scotland’s connectivity being further eroded. It is imperative there is immediate action on APD.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“This is the regrettable but inevitable consequences of UK Tory Government unwillingness to display a pragmatic approach to APD and the benefits cutting it would bring to the Scottish economy. Meanwhile, Labour, Lib Dem and Green MSPs continue to oppose reducing this tax, despite the adverse impact it has on Scottish jobs and growth.
“It is bad enough that Glasgow Airport is falling victim to UK intransigence and we are starting to lose jobs in the West of Scotland. Which airport will be next?
“Ruth Davidson MSP pretends to have the ear of the Prime Minister, but while Tory MSPs unanimously voted in favour of the Air Departure Tax (Scotland) Bill last June, their Westminster colleagues couldn’t care less – demonstrating once again how little clout the Tories in Scotland actually have.”