Transport Minister hails 2014 route development success

The past 12 months have seen new services between Scotland and long haul destinations like Doha and Chicago get off the ground. New routes to Abu Dhabi and Halifax, Nova Scotia have also been announced for 2015.

New links to short haul destinations like Dublin, Marrakech and Geneva also took off, whilst there was also a boost for regional connectivity with new routes to destinations like London City and the Isle of Man.

With the Smith Commission’s recommendation that control over APD be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, Mr Mackay believes Scotland should be given these powers as soon as possible to maximise its potential.

He said:

“2014 has been a great year for route development in Scotland and these successes prove that Scotland remains an attractive destination for airlines and travellers.

“Adding long haul hub destinations like Doha and Chicago provides a huge boost to business and tourism, opening up key markets for Scottish firms and making it even easier for visitors to get a taste of our wonderful tourist offering here in Scotland.

“The importance of regional connectivity should also be stressed and new routes to London City and Dublin will no doubt prove popular with business travellers.

“I congratulate all our airports for their successes this year, which come despite an Air Passenger Duty regime that clearly holds them back in comparison to their competitors around Europe.

“UK APD is the most expensive tax of its kind in Europe and its impact on Scotland cannot continue to be ignored. Airports and airlines repeatedly cite it as one of the biggest obstacles when it comes to securing new direct international services and maintaining existing ones.

“By devolving APD to Scotland we could unlock the country’s full potential, bringing significant opportunities for airlines, Scotland’s airports and passengers.

“This is something that we have long called for, and has widespread support within the aviation and tourism industries. The Smith Commission also recommend this transfer of power and our airports have even written to Westminster to back this move.

"It’s time for Westminster to act – there is no reason why powers over APD should not be transferred to Holyrood immediately so we can get to grips with this unfair tax and allow our airports to maximise their potential.”

Notes to editors

Contact Transport Scotland Communications: 0141 272 7195

Published 28 Dec 2014