The Welsh Affairs Committee has recommended that control of Air Passenger Duty at Welsh Airports be handed over to the Welsh Government by 2021 but with a caveat to link it to carbon emissions from flights.
Air Passenger Duty (APD) is a tax that is levied on all outbound flights from UK airports and the tax has already been devolved to Scotland, and partially to Northern Ireland.
Reducing or even removing APD could make Cardiff Airport more attractive to airlines, in particular, long-haul airlines as long-haul flights currently attract a levy of at least £172and up to £515 for business and first class tickets.
The committee however was concerned that a reduction of APD would lead to increased carbon emissions at Wales’ only airport, Cardiff so would require the Welsh Government to carry out a environmental impact assessments before any decisions were made on the reduction or removal of APD.
David Davies MP, who chairs the Welsh Affairs Committee, said: “The evidence my Committee heard about the benefits of devolving APD was absolutely convincing. The UK Government needs to recognise these opportunities for Wales and demonstrate its commitment to equity within the devolution system by setting out a plan for devolving APD to Wales.“
Devolution of APD to Wales has long been opposed and rejected by Welsh Secretary Alun Cains and MP’s in England have claimed it would give an unfair advantage to Cardiff Airport over its rivals in South West England.
Welsh Government Finance Minister, Rebecca Evans AM, said: “The Welsh Government has consistently argued there is no justification for Wales being treated differently to Scotland, Northern Ireland in terms of the devolution of APD. We, therefore, welcome the Committee’s recognition of the inequity in the devolution process. We now call on the UK Government to take the recommended action and fully devolve APD to Wales by 2021.“
The Air Passenger Duty has been rumbling on for some years though and it remains to be seen as to whether to the UK government will actually grant these powers to Cardiff Bay.