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Published on Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Scottish Tories expected to agree to APD reduction

Scottish Tories are reported to be ready to drop their opposition to slashing Air Passenger Duty, paving the way for a 50% cut in the tax north of the border.

The ruling Scottish National Party has long advocated the halving of APD when it takes control of the tax in 2018.

But until now it has not had enough votes to push the move through, as all the other main parties had been against any cut.

However, the Sunday Post reports the Brexit vote has led Scottish Conservatives to rethink their stance and the Tories are now set to drop their opposition.

It is expected the cut will be unveiled in the 2017/18 budget, the first under new Finance Secretary Derek Mackay.

He said: "UK APD is one of the most expensive taxes of its kind in the world. It continues to act as a barrier to Scotland's ability to secure new direct international routes and maintain existing ones.

"Our plan, taking into account the responses to the consultations, will be to start reducing the overall burden of a new tax in Scotland from April 2018, implement a 50% reduction in full by the end of the current Scottish Parliament, and then abolish the tax entirely when public finances allow."

The Sunday Post adds that, as well as saving families going on holiday hundreds of pounds, a cut will bring in an estimated one million passengers to Scotland every year, with airlines poised to introduce new routes.

Edinburgh Airport chief executive Gordon Dewar told MSPs an APD cut was even more vital in the wake of the vote to leave the EU.

He said: "We have talked a lot about negotiating over months and years to get to an outcome, but we can do one thing that is quick and internationalist, which is just to follow the existing Government policy and halve air passenger duty.

"That would have a low cost but it would reverse what we are hearing about airlines moving investment away from the UK and would, almost overnight, result in significant growth that would benefit the economy and jobs in 2017, never mind the 2020s or 2040s.

"That is what we should do if we want to stand out as being internationalist, open for business and welcoming."

There is still strong opposition against a cut in APD, with the Greens opposed on environmental grounds and the Labour party wanting to keep the tax and spend the money generated on public services.

Airlines and business leaders have expressed disappointment that the Scottish Government plans to phase in cuts to APD, with the full 50% reduction coming into effect in 2021.

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