SOUTH Wales Chamber of Commerce and FSB Wales have joined forces to lobby for Air Passenger Duty tax to be devolved to Wales. The leading Welsh business organisations have called for the Chancellor to devolve Air Passenger Duty (APD) ahead of the UK Government budget on 29 October.
Over recent years, more and more international airlines – like Quatar Airways – link to Cardiff Airport, which has had great benefits to Wales’ economy.
Now, FSB Wales and South Wales Chamber of Commerce argue that by devolving APD, Cardiff Airport will enter the competitive market even further and attract more international flights, to really put Wales on the international map, especially as it soon charts its course through the Brexit deal.
This would also enable Welsh businesses to reach out to new trading links and networks.
In a joint letter to Phillip Hammond, both business organisations state: “Wales has always been a proud and outward-looking nation and both the FSB and South Wales Chamber believe that the devolution of Air Passenger Duty will allow Welsh Government to support the development of new routes to and from Wales and provide vital new links to benefit business and, ultimately, the Welsh economy.
“APD is already devolved to Scotland, while Northern Ireland has devolved capacity over long-haul flights.” Given that Wales is the only UK nation without control of these issues, the two business organisations call upon the Chancellor to take this opportunity to rectify this in the upcoming UK Government budget.
“Bristol Airport has long-haul flight capacity issues which are not present in Cardiff, meaning that any potential expansion of Cardiff Airport into further long-haul flights could benefit the West Country as well as Wales, without being detrimental to Bristol Airport.”
Harri Lloyd-Davies, Chair of South Wales Chamber of Commerce, said: “Our combined membership means that we represent a significant proportion of the business community in Wales, not to mention the breadth of businesses that are within our membership.
“We know that businesses in Wales are ambitious and are actively seeking ways to extend their business; many wish to do so overseas. We would ask that the UK Government match the ambition of our businesses in Wales and devolve APD to the Welsh Government so that these goals can be realised. We urge the Chancellor to consider this ahead of the budget.”
The letter follows the publication of a report last week from the Assembly’s cross-party Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee which has made a number of recommendations for boosting the visibility and international trade capacity of Wales including the lobbying of UK Government for the devolution of Air Passenger Duty.
Ben Francis, FSB Wales Policy Chair, said: “The success of many small businesses in Wales relies on our ability to project our national brand and identity overseas, which is intrinsically linked to APD being devolved to the Welsh Government. This is fundamental and becomes an even more stark reality when we think of the fact that Brexit – and all the risks as well as new trading possibilities – is now on the horizon.
“1 in 5 FSB smaller firms trade overseas, with many more seeking to do so. Devolving APD and making Cardiff Airport more competitive, will only enhance Welsh firms and their ability to take advantage of new trade deals and markets.
“Furthermore, we have long worked with Welsh and UK Government to promote the role of Wales in the world. Our smaller firms are diverse, vibrant and demonstrate Wales’ unique identity on the international stage. They play an intrinsic role in making Wales an attractive place to visit, trade with and study in. Devolving APD only increases small businesses capacity to do this.”
The two business organisations are currently waiting for a response to the letter which was issued. on October 3rd.