Chambers chief pushes Osborne on air duty

SCOTTISH Chambers of Commerce chief executive Liz Cameron will today renew her calls for air passenger duty (APD) to be devolved to Holyrood to increase the competitiveness of airports north of the Border.

In her submission to Chancellor George Osborne ahead of his Budget, Cameron claimed Scotland’s airports were losing out because of the tax charged on each passenger.

She said: “Current rates of APD seem more suited to controlling capacity constraints at Heathrow than they do with the needs of regional airports, and devolution of this tax would afford the Scottish Government the opportunity to create an air transport package for Scotland designed to improve our direct international connectivity.”

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Devolving APD to Holyrood has long been an ambition of the SNP and many airline operators and business groups.

Other measures in the Scottish Chambers’ pre-Budget submission include abandoning the inflation-busting rise in business rates south of the Border, which has a knock-on effect for charges in Scotland.

In a separate submission, the British Chambers of Commerce director-general, John Longworth, called on Osborne to “pull out all the stops” by introducing a £1 billion capital allowance scheme for medium-sized companies so that they can offset investment in equipment against their tax bill and to double the amount of money available for employer wage subsidies under the Youth Contract.