Business leaders have accused the SNP government of cutting Scotland’s economy “off at the knees” after it dumped a flagship pledge to cut a flights tax.
The Scottish Chambers of Commerce said the decision to abandon a long-promised cut to Air Passenger Duty (APD) would have a “have a significant and deleterious impact on the Scottish economy.”
Liz Cameron, the trade body’s chief executive, said Scotland’s ability to trade internationally after Brexit would be hampered “where the need to boost our exports has never been greater.”
In a scathing riposte to the government’s claim the move was needed to meet climate change targets, she said it would “do nothing” to cut carbon emissions.
The airline industry also reacted with fury to the announcement after warning “the current sky-high rate of tax is damaging connectivity in Scotland and penalising hard working families” who want a holiday.
Gordon Dewar, chief executive of Edinburgh Airport, attacked the “reactionary” move and argued it was “sheer hypocrisy” given APD has already been cut at Inverness and the SNP “persists on propping up a failing airport at Prestwick.”
Speaking after the move was rubber-stamped at a meeting of the Scottish Cabinet, Derek Mackay, the Finance Minister, insisted the SNP’s long-standing pledge to halve then scrap APD “is no longer compatible with more ambitious climate targets.”