Bristol

Air passenger devolution 'will cost south west £843m'

Departure lounge
Image caption Bristol Airport boss Robert Sinclair claims 1,500 jobs could go in the next decade if passengers and airlines opted to fly from Cardiff instead

Devolving air passenger duty (APD) to the Welsh government will cost the south west economy £843m, the boss of Bristol Airport has warned.

Chief executive Robert Sinclair claims if the government abolishes the duty it will leave the airport at a "significant commercial disadvantage".

He predicted 1,500 jobs could go in the next decade if passengers and airlines opted to fly from Cardiff instead.

But, Cardiff Airport said neighbouring airports "should work together".

Mr Sinclair said he expected Chancellor George Osborne to confirm the move in next month's budget.

'Taxpayer-subsidised redistribution'

It was recommended by the 2012 Silk Commission, which investigated how Wales should be funded.

Mr Sinclair said this would effectively be "a taxpayer-subsidised redistribution of existing passengers from one airport to another".

"If this tax is devolved to Wales and scrapped we will be put at a significant commercial disadvantage to Cardiff Airport, which is owned by the Welsh government," he said.

APD is £13 on short-haul flights and £71 for long-haul services.

Bristol Airport - 60 miles from Cardiff Airport - is the ninth busiest in the UK with 6.8m passengers a year. But it fears passenger numbers could drop by a quarter.

APD 'a punitive tax'

A Treasury spokesman said the UK Government was considering devolving APD to Wales "in parallel to a review of options to support regional airports from the impacts".

Cardiff Airport managing director, Debra Barber, said Wales deserved a national airport to attract tourism.

"APD is a punitive tax that only serves to hinder Cardiff Airport's ability to continue on this journey of growth," she added.

The Scottish Government has pledged to cut APD by 50% from April 2018.

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