Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Prestwick Boss Calls For APD Action

According to web statements, the boss of Glasgow Prestwick Airport has claimed that Air Passenger Duty (APD) is “devastating” Scottish inbound tourism because it is putting people off taking domestic flights.
Prestwick Airport’s chief executive, Iain Cochrane, has urged the UK Government to scrap the controversial tax and devolve it to the Scottish Parliament.

Responding to the Westminster Government's consultation on the future of APD, Mr Cochrane said: “The impact of APD is simply devastating. Since the doubling of APD from £5 to £10 in 2008, we estimate the loss of inbound tourists through Glasgow Prestwick to have cost the Scottish economy over £130 million per annum in passenger spend alone.

“We estimate that abolishing APD would secure over 750,000 additional passengers per annum through Glasgow Prestwick Airport and we strongly believe that all other Scottish airports would see a strong growth in passenger services, giving the Scottish economy a very welcome boost.

He added: “We firmly believe that the Scottish Government is best placed to determine the balance between APD and the economic benefits of aviation growth. Prudent judgements can then be made that are specifically pertinent to Scotland, recognising its geographical position depends far more heavily on good air services than most other areas of the UK.”

Whilst it may not be the full picture to blame all the flight losses and reductions in passenger numbers to APD - Ryanair's shift and displacement of flights through Edinburgh being the major contributory factor perhaps - there is no doubt that Prestwick needs support from both local and national politicians and from Ayrshire and the wider business communities across Scotland. Certainly the market will out and if new airlines, charters or scheduled routes cannot be attracted the airport will once again have to reinvent itself all over again as it has done in the past. There seems little desire from the Scottish Government to intervene at Prestwick in the way that they have certainly intervened in other "important" tourism areas and it looks as though it's down to the airport management to pretty much fight their own corner.

The importance and contribution of those new routes in the first decade of the millennium to Ayrshire and indeed Glasgow's hospitality sector cannot be underestimated. Their loss is now being heavily felt by many.
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