Devolving APD to Wales

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

This week there are two days of information-seeking by the Welsh Affairs Committee of the House of Commons about APD being devolved to Wales.

Cardiff Airport © Richard Swingler

For those readers who might think that this will not affect them because they live far from Wales, think again.

Unlike the devolution of APD to the Scottish parliament, if APD is devolved to Wales it will have a much bigger impact. A number of English airports get a considerable number of those living in Wales travelling through their airports. Bristol, Birmingham Manchester and to a smaller extent, Liverpool will be affected. Gatwick and Heathrow also have some Welsh travellers but probably won’t feel it as much as the first three.

The other reason is that from Tyneside or Cumbria to Glasgow or Edinburgh airports takes a couple of hours at best. Travelling from Gloucestershire, Bristol, Bath, North Somerset or Herefordshire to Cardiff Airport will be much faster.

In a study Just about Travel undertook in 2015, only 64% of passengers who live just in the CF postcode flew from Cardiff Airport meaning that 36% used other ones principally Bristol and Birmingham. For the whole of Wales it is closer to 50%. In North East Wales it borders on 95%!

If APD is devolved and if it is set at a different rate to England or abolished completely as the previous First Minister said he would like to do then some of those people using English airports will fly from Cardiff. And, importantly, people living in the border counties and maybe even further away will be persuaded that it is better to fly from Cardiff because it will be cheaper.

The argument that people chose airports by the routes available is true to a certain extent. But for popular routes such as to Malaga or Alicante, Arrecife or Faro, Palma or Mahon then cost will play a big part. Let us say that the Welsh government was to end APD. There is a saving of £26 for a family of four (two children under 16 and they go free) which might have an impact on your thinking. But if you are travelling to Florida, the Caribbean or Australia then the saving will be £156 which is considerable.

A while ago the Welsh government received a report which said that if APD were abolished it could attract a further 62,000 passengers to Cardiff Airport. When Just about Travel looked at this in 2015 the numbers were far higher in fact you could comfortably double that figure for routes under 2,000 miles and quadruple it for longer journeys. With no tolls on the Severn bridges anymore there is a freer movement of passengers from Bristol to Cardiff Airports

Both the Welsh and British governments will have to think long and hard about the ramifications of devolving APD to Wales. My forecast would be that if it is devolved and abolished in Wales, the tax will shortly disappear entirely.

Grest news for us travellers; bad news for the Treasury

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