Significant Threat to NE Air Travel


Yet another threat to business interests in the NE of Scotland from Scottish Government actions has been the focus of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce. 

Scottish Government plans for a “supertax” on air travel have been identified by the Chamber as a threat to the future of Aberdeen airport and the NE economy. While the Scottish Government schemes to grab revenues by targeting air travel and reverse the failings of its net zero efforts, such a move would represent a serious danger to the region.

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Such an action risks pricing people out of domestic air travel (in fact this is part of the scheme’s intention) and isolate the NE of Scotland. Attempting to force travellers onto other forms of land transport is likely to have a detrimental effect on the NE Economy and on the quality of life for the thousands of holiday makers and business travellers who use Aberdeen airport. Aberdeen airport is of significant importance to the local economy and its inhabitants by providing direct flights to many major domestic hubs including London and Manchester and of course direct flights to holiday destinations. In the case of holiday destinations NE travellers often have to pay a premium for the privilege of flying direct – withering taxes will not be popular.

The First Minister has attempted to woo voters in the north-east and diminish the damage done by his party’s negative stance on continued support for oil and gas by claiming he wants to make Aberdeen the “net zero capital of Europe” These proposals are hardly likely to mend fences further. 

Russell Borthwick, chief executive at Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said of the proposals that they were “deeply unhelpful” and an obstacle to attracting business and investment to the region. He added that this initiative goes against the First Minister’s “new deal for business.” He said: “Any supertax of this kind on business travel would fly in that face of that accord.

“Aberdeen has suffered chronic underinvestment in our travel infrastructure over decades. Rail services to the rest of Scotland are nowhere near as fast and reliable as they could be and are not a viable alternative for business travellers, for whom time is money. For example it takes over seven hours to travel by train from London making it an unviable transport form for short business trips.”

Exemptions have been discussed for the Highlands and Islands due to poor public transport systems there, but this would put Aberdeen “at a further unfair advantage” claimed Mr Borthwick. He suggested that Scotland should “pioneer sustainable aviation fuels,” and invest in 21st century rail infrastructure.”

He added: “Let’s rollout renewable energy projects at scale, let’s do all of this and more, instead of cutting off swathes of our population. What we shouldn’t do is hammer business and leisure travellers with taxes on top of taxes, to provide a fig leaf for government failings on its approach to net zero.”

It is somewhat bewildering that the interests of the region aren’t defended as robustly by its electoral representatives as they are by the efforts of the Chamber. 

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