The English Parliament has dealt the Welsh economy a serious blow this week by refusing to devolve Air Passenger Duty (APD) to Wales despite recomendations to do so by the Silk Commission. A move that is likely to drive a further wedge between Wales and Westminster.
Air Passenger Duty is an unfair tax levied on all flights leaving the UK and adds up £73 onto the price of an economy class ticket. Devolved APD would have allowed the Welsh Government to reduce or even scrap the tax boosting tourism and business across the Welsh region.
Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns MP, who’s Vale of Glamorgan constituency includes Welsh Goverment owned Cardiff Airport has shown little or no support for the devolution of APD to Wales despite claiming to have the Welsh Economy as one of his top priorities. He is not alone however, Welsh Labour who pushed for the purchase of Cardiff Airport have been notable by their lack of campaigning on the issue.
The decision was met with joy by Bristol Airport who claimed that the South West would be turned into a wasteland should Cardiff Airport be given a chance to grow however whilst their arguments were weak, the anti devolution campaign was at least vocal, unlike the Welsh AM’s and MP’s who claimed to support devolution.
Last year the Government commisioned a study and prepared a report on how to respond if Wales were to be given power over APD including the emergency granting of regionally devolved APD to English regions.
Debra Barber, Chief Operating Office for Cardiff Airport recently said that Air Passenger duty was hindering the airport however it appears she did not have the support of the decision makers.
Cardiff Airport were asked to comment on the decision but so far have declined to do so.
Junior Welsh Minister Guto Bebb (MP for Aberconwy) was quick to defend his English counterparts saying it was “right and proper” that Wales did not have the same rights regarding APD as the other devolved nations, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
An APD4Wales spokesperson said “obviously we are deeply disappointed by the decision from Westminster to not provide devolved Air Passenger Duty to Wales, the same right they have afforded to the other 2 devolved nations Scotland and Northern Ireland.
APD4Wales sees no valid argument on why Wales should not be allowed the right to boost its economy, tourism & air transport network and offer lower prices for Welsh and English travellers using Cardiff Airport.
We are also deeply disappointed by the lack of support shown by Welsh MP’s on this issue who claim to have the best interests of Wales at heart but refuse to stand up for such an important issue”