The Scottish government is abandoning plans to reduce and eventually eliminate the UK Air Passenger Duty at Scottish airports, citing climate change.
In 2016, the Scottish National Party (SNP) promised to reduce the pricey UK departure tax, which can run as high as $289 per ticket, first by 50% and eventually abolish it. At the time, the SNP argued that this high tax made finding and keeping international routes difficult out of Scottish airports. The reduction and eventual scrapping of this tax was intended to promote tourism.
But last month, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declared a “climate emergency” and SNP has now announced that scrapping the departure tax in Scotland is incomparable with its ambitious climate agenda. Critics had pointed to reduction in departure tax as a gift to the wealthy and an encouragement of pollution.
While Scottish Conservatives accuse SNP of caving to “environmental extremists”, Labour and Green Party members of the Scottish Parliament applauded the move. Labour spokesperson Colin Smyth framed the issue in class terms to the Financial Times.
A tax cut that benefits the richest the most and increases emissions was never the right policy.
Meanwhile, Tory shadow Finance Secretary Murdo Fraser framed the issue in finance terms:
Cutting ADT on long-haul flights has huge potential to boost our economy, make money for the tourism industry, and generate business.
As Scotland wrestles over whether its focus should be on attempting to address climate change or promoting tourism, it has chosen to prioritize climate change. Only time will tell whether this was the smarter choice.
Has the pricey UK Air Passenger Duty ever stopped you from visiting Scotland or other parts of the United Kingdom?