Abolish tax on flights to the isles, Holyrood is urged

A call has been made for the Scottish government to prioritise the abolition of air passenger duty on flights to the Highlands and Islands.

The plea by Loganair’s managing director, Jonathan Hinkles, has been welcomed by council election candidate, Ryan Thomson, who has campaigned on transport links in the past.

Loganair managing director Jonathan Hinkles.

Mr Hinkles was speaking at the Scottish Parliament’s finance and constitution committee on Wednesday. He urged the SNP administration to ditch the tax on flights to the north when it takes over responsibility for the duty in April next year. Parliament was taking evidence about the introduction of Scotland’s replacement for APD when Mr Hinkles made the call.

A tax exemption currently exists on flights from the Highlands and Islands. Mr Hinkles would like to see that “reciprocated” to cover departures from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen to those destinations.

He said the economic benefits of the resultant lower travel costs would be felt in both the tourism industry and businesses based throughout the area.

He said a proportion of travel on these routes, such as NHS patient travel, was already funded by government – and argued the actual cost to the public purse of exempting these routes would be modest.

Mr Hinkles said removing the tax would also encourage passenger growth at Highlands and Islands airports, generating more income through public charges and thereby reducing Hial’s reliance on government subsidy.

“We believe this change should be prioritised in the very first set of measures to be introduced by the Scottish government. Abolishing APD on flights to the islands, well before the eventual abolition of the tax for all air services in Scotland, will make a real and immediate difference to families, tourism and businesses alike.”


“We believe this change should be prioritised in the very first set of measures to be introduced by the Scottish government.” JONATHAN HINKLES


Mr Hinkles also said that the change would further boost Sumburgh’s position as a growing hub for the oil and gas industry – by creating a level playing field between the tax treatment of passengers flying directly by helicopter to North Sea installations from Aberdeen, and those flying on fixed-wing aircraft to Shetland before transferring to helicopters there.

Currently, those flying directly by helicopter do not pay APD, but those flying part of the way on fixed-wing incur APD on that section of the journey from Aberdeen.

The airline announced late last year that it would launch operations under its own name once again from 1st September 2017, after 24 years operating under franchise agreements with British Airways and, latterly, Flybe.

Mr Thomson has campaigned for a better deal on ferry fares in the past. He welcomed moves which, he said, could make air travel more affordable, too.

“I welcome the call from Loganair’s managing director Jonathan Hinkles calling for the Scottish government to abolish air passenger duty exemption on flights coming into Sumburgh, as well as other airports in the Highlands and Islands.

“We’re beginning to finally see real improvements here in Shetland in leveling up the playing field for Shetlanders and those living on the mainland travelling here in terms of the prices we are paying both by ferry and plane and to abolish APD on flights would only have a positive impact on Shetland, our tourism trade and our economy.

“As I mentioned to islands and transport minister Humza Yousaf during our meeting in August 2016, our flights and ferry journeys are lifeline services to the mainland and these should be taxed accordingly.

“The cost of flights to and from Shetland are still relatively high for families wanting to travel and the abolition of APD on flights to Sumburgh from Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh would contribute to a sizable saving for a family’s round trip to the mainland.”


Add Your Comment
  • i tinkler

    • February 2nd, 2017 9:10

    “A tax exemption currently exists on flights from “the Highlands and Islands.”. Now we see yet again Shetland missing out. We must ask ourselves, yet again, just why Shetland has not had the ferry fare cuts, so promised by Sturgeon? Why are we treated differently than the “Highlands and Islands” regarding, air passenger duty? Why the funding cut of £8,5 million to Shetland, the largest cut to any authority in Scotland? It really must be apparent by now the SG/SNP really does not like us very much, truly time to break free. Time for full Shetland autonomy, enough of this spiteful and vindictive behaviour from Holyrood . Remember the SNP comment on the “Yes Shetland ” Facebook page after the last election, when Shetland rejected the SNP candidate decisively, “SNP should make Shetland suffer”!

    • Toby Sandison

      • February 2nd, 2017 15:38

      Shetland is part of the Highlands and Islands, that is why you only pay taxes on one leg of a return flight.

      • i tinkler

        • February 2nd, 2017 18:30

        It should be on both legs, do you agree Toby? Sorry, my note should have been clearer!

      • Toby Sandison

        • February 3rd, 2017 10:41

        Your note wasn’t unclear, it was factually wrong. You suggested a discrepancy between Shetland and the rest of the Highlands and Islands that does not exist.

        I’d support further subsidy on the routes, whether that be removed taxes or increased ADS discount.

      • Bill Adams

        • February 3rd, 2017 12:27

        You are quite right, Toby. Despite the never-ending torrent of “SNP bad ,very BAD” from
        Mr Tinkler, Shetland is not discriminated against compared to the rest of the Highlands
        and Islands as regards to Air Passenger Duty.


      • February 3rd, 2017 12:38

      “It really must be apparent by now the SG/SNP really does not like us…”. The Scottish Government hasn’t had and still doesn’t have responsibility for APD, as it clearly states in the story.

  • Keith Hawkins

    • February 2nd, 2017 14:31

    I have just booked return tickets in March returning in April, for myself and my wife (both pensioners) on the ferry, sailing from LK to ABDN with outside cabin and car, to pick up our caravan (one way trip for the caravan). Total cost for trip £473.00. Not so cheap on the ferry either is it.
    Keith Hawkins.

  • i tinkler

    • February 3rd, 2017 7:17

    Just a tad more salt in the wounds of Shetland!! Another kick in the teeth, from the SG/SNP for Shetland. “It emerged that Shetland Schools will only receive £188,400 from the £120 million Attainment Scotland Fund, the lowest allocation of all of the country’s local authorities.” Just ask yourself, why is that?

    • James Watt

      • February 3rd, 2017 14:00

      “It emerged that Shetland Schools will only receive £188,400 from the £120 million Attainment Scotland Fund, the lowest allocation of all of the country’s local authorities.” Just ask yourself, why is that?

      I’d imagine it’s because the funding is based on how many kids are entitled to free school meals up to the 3rd year of secondary school.
      Somehow I have a feeling Ian is going to tell us the real reason is that the SNP want to punish Shetlands children for their parents failure to vote SNP, am I right Ian?

      • Steven Jarmson

        • February 3rd, 2017 23:12

        No. It’s because the nasty regressive left wing Nats think Shetland is too wealthy and they’re trying everything they can to drain money away whilst they ensure as much as possible is island proofed.
        Unfortunately their idea island proofing is making sure money doesn’t make it this far north.

      • James Watt

        • February 4th, 2017 12:51

        @Steven, Perhaps you can explain how you have come to the insightful conclusion that basing a funding system on the number of children who are entitled to free school meals is also a system designed to siphon money from Shetland.

  • ian_tinkler

    • February 3rd, 2017 16:24

    “Somehow I have a feeling Ian is going to tell us the real reason is that the SNP want to punish Shetlands children for their parents failure to vote SNP, am I right Ian?” No James Watt., I never dreamt for one second the SNP would stoop so low as to punish Shetlands School children! That seems to be an idea you have introduced into the discussion. You appear to know far more about the SNP than me, James, is that what you think the SNP are up to?

    • James Watt

      • February 4th, 2017 10:23

      If you are hoping to get elected as a local councillor Ian, you really will need to brush up on the basics like how to read and process information that is in black and white right in front of you.
      I’ve made it clear what I think the SNP are up to, I think the SNP have implemented a funding system that is based on how many kids are entitled to free school meals up to the 3rd year of secondary school, it’s far from perfect but it’s definitely a step in the right direction, Shetland will predictably get less money than areas in with higher numbers of children from deprived backgrounds.
      Now I’ve mad my point using language that even you can understand perhaps you can enlighten us as to why you think Shetland gets the least money from the attainment fund. And remember Ian people you are asking to vote for you could be reading this so failure to answer clearly and concisely could cost you at the ballet box in the near future.

  • i tinkler

    • February 4th, 2017 12:46

    A few basics on education for you, James Watt. Social exclusion in Scotland worse now than when The SNP took over Government. £120 million of taxpayer’s money is being used to try and cover such ineptitude and redress that imbalance… The lions share going to Glasgow and the central belt. That is the basic fact. £8.5 million taken from funding to Shetland, greater than any other authority, that is a basic fact (a small claw back courtesy of the Greens). Shetland Health Board £1 million plus short of funding, that is a basic fact. Now we have all our ferry services threatened by central control from the SG/SNP. No cuts in fares as promised. (Yet! (Election pending, the bribe may come!)) That is a basic fact. I could go on, but would hear the usual response “SNP bad”. Actually, I regard the SNP as no more interested in fair Government, than a herd of Sheep would be. The SNP under Sturgeon has but one aim, Indyref2, at any cost to Shetland or Scotland. Fortunately, the majority, however much they may dislike Westminster and the Tories can see exactly where Sturgeon is coming from. My candidature is quite irrelevant compared to what Sturgeon is inflicting on Shetland and Scotland, that is why I will, however, it much I upset the Nationalist, I will just tell it as it is.

    • James Watt

      • February 5th, 2017 12:39

      Very good Ian, but you have once again failed to answer a basic question, a question that you yourself posed, so let’s try one more time.

      From your original post
      “It emerged that Shetland Schools will only receive £188,400 from the £120 million Attainment Scotland Fund, the lowest allocation of all of the country’s local authorities.” Just ask yourself, why is that?

      So Ian, by the wording you’ve used it’s clear you’ve got your own theory why Shetland gets the lowest allocation, would you care to share that theory with us or should we assume that you are happy to hide behind insinuation and innuendo, hardly behaviour of someone who claims he wants be be elected on a platform being honest and honourable while highlighting the disingenuous.

      • Ian Tinkler

        • February 6th, 2017 11:21

        Read my Web site. I hide behind nothing, James Watt, my views could not be more forthright. If I was hiding, I would hardly be writing here. However, do note, the website is still under construction. and subject to change as I research further, take advice and expand it.

        In answer to your question, Mr Watt, ” Just ask yourself, why is that?”, why have the SNP ignored Shetland Schools, especially our rural schools, in a disadvantaged position by way of isolation? I consider two probable/ posable reasons. blind indifference to Shetland or just as no SNP votes in Shetland, so concentrate resources centrally to Glasgow, where they vote SNP! Is that clear enough for you?

  • i tinkler

    • February 4th, 2017 21:24

    “Now I’ve mad my point ” Now James, read “https://www.iantinklerwildcroft.com/”. A work in progress, I will also mad my point or perhaps mad a few points. Now have a nice day. A few Freudian slips here. Whoop whoop. you just have to see the fun in it.

    • Graham Fleming

      • February 5th, 2017 12:52

      With 40% in the public sector ,expenditure is really getting out of control in Shetland.A dependency Shetland as envisaged by yourself just wouldn’t be able to support the lavishness it currently enjoys.But I agree Holyrude is partly to blame by flinging money at the islands without proper scrutiny and control.If the islands budget was cut to afford 17% employment in that sector.The rest could be made up from council tax increases and horded local resources to a more manageable 19% public sector like what everyone else has. A dead wood economy really has to be cut out before the canker really takes hold. Whoopity do dah fruitcake farm ain’t faraway.


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