Green tax on air travel ‘would cost the jobs of thousands’

Scotland's travel trade has warned that proposals for a green' tax on air travel will destroy Scotland's economy with the loss of thousands of jobs.

In a report responding to the Conservatives' Greener Skies consultation which aims to curb environmentally-damaging aviation emissions linked to global warming, the Scottish Passenger Agents' Association (SPAA) warns that highly taxed routes would severely damage the tourism industry in particular.

It produced figures which show the busiest domestic routes in the UK are between the south of England and the central belt of Scotland.

The proposals outlined by George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, would see the imposition for the first time of VAT or fuel duty - or both together - on domestic flights.

The shadow chancellor also wants to replace air passenger duty with a new per flight' tax, based more closely on actual emissions, which would see aircraft which are less fuel efficient, or which fly half-empty taxed more heavily.

The industry is still coming to terms with Gordon Brown's doubling of air passenger duty (APD) which he portrayed as a green tax in his December pre-Budget report. The Chancellor has already dismissed the Conservatives' proposals for VAT on domestic flights, saying: "The substance of this measure has not been proven."

But the SPAA, the world's oldest travel trade association, which represents the nation's major travel agents, has produced a no-punches-pulled lobby document condemning the proposals' "woeful ignorance" of the importance of air travel and its importance to the Scottish economy.

Sandy MacPherson, president of the SPAA said: "If the suggested course of action is put into practice then the economic and commercial heart of Scotland will be destroyed and both inbound and outbound tourism seriously reduced with the loss of thousands and thousands of jobs."

11:05pm Sunday 1st April 2007