Passengers jetting out from Aberdeen’s airport would get a better deal with a fair tax system, a thinktank has argued.
Aberdeen International Airport (AIA) is liable for air departure tax, so passengers must pay between £13 and £172 extra to fly out.
However, Inverness Airport is exempt from the tax and some have argued it has persuaded operators such as British Airways and easyjet to move flights there from Aberdeen.
Now, AIA’s independent consultative committee has written to the UK Government as part of its aviation industry consultation.
The committee’s chairman Dr Peter Smart, said: “Passengers flying from AIA deserve a better deal from the Government.
“It’s about time Inverness is required to operate just like any other airport of its size, on a commercial basis. What might have been appropriate a few years ago, when its passenger numbers were less than half a million, cannot be justified now.”
He added that AIA should get an exemption or Inverness should lose it for non-island flights.
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The UK Government introduced the tax but the Scottish Government – which owns Inverness Airport – administers it in Scotland. It dropped a manifesto pledge to reduce the tax for all Scottish airports.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said this was “a difficult decision” taken due to declaring a climate emergency. She added: “Air connectivity is critical for the Highlands and Islands, and our position on the existing exemption is unchanged – it must remain in place to protect remote and rural communities.”
A spokesman for Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd echoed the comments.
Dr Smart said: “The committee is not saying flights wholly within the Highlands and Islands area should lose their exemption, including flights north and west from Inverness to destinations such as Kirkwall and Stornoway.
“Quite the opposite. They agree wholeheartedly that these lifeline services should remain exempt.
“But the committee is aware the exemption from the tax on all flights from Inverness is seen as an incentive to airlines to add services there, sometimes to the direct detriment of Aberdeen.”