Cardiff Airport: Devolving air passenger tax explored

  • 11 February 2019

Cardiff Airport sign
Image caption The arguments over the issue have raged for a number of years

Devolving an airport tax that some believe could transform Cardiff Airport is to be examined.

The Welsh Government has long argued it should have powers over Air Passenger Duty (APD), allowing it to attract more long haul flights.

But UK ministers have previously said it would give Cardiff an unfair advantage over rivals such as Bristol.

MPs from the Welsh Affairs Committee will visit on Monday to consider the arguments for and against the move.

APD is a tax levied on passengers – with those on economy class outbound flights of more than 2,000 miles currently paying £78 or £156 for long haul business class.

While it has been devolved in part to Scotland and Northern Ireland, it is still controlled by the UK government in Wales.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Could Cardiff attract more long haul flights if the tax was devolved?

The Welsh Government owns Cardiff Airport, and in 2017 then First Minister Carwyn Jones said he wanted control over the tax, so he could abolish it.

He said: “Why is it that Scotland has been given that power and Wales hasn’t got that power?

“We could really grow Cardiff Airport, we could help to grow other airports across Wales, if air passenger duty was devolved, and we know it doesn’t come at anyone else’s expense.

“This is not about taking passengers from other airports, those that are over the border, this is about growing demand in Wales.”

A report for Welsh ministers suggested abolishing APD could increase annual passenger numbers by 62,000 while having a “marginal” impact on Bristol Airport.

The Welsh Affairs Committee is a cross-party group of 11 Welsh MPs chaired by Tory David Davies, and includes Labour’s Geraint Davies and Plaid Cymru’s Ben Lake.

Members will watch a presentation by the airport’s executive board and consider how commercial benefits weigh against potential for negative side effects for north Wales and surrounding English airports.

BBC News – Wales

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