Edinburgh Airport complains about Air Passenger Duty

Giving control over Air Passenger Duty (APD) to the Scottish Parliament could encourage visitors to come to the country for the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games, transport and tourism bosses say.

The Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup will be held in Scotland next year but some industry leaders believe tourists could be put off from flying to the country because of high APD charges.

Late last year, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh airports commissioned a report that claimed the charge could lead to a drop in both passengers and tourism spending. The tax could cost the Scottish economy £210 milliona year by 2016 and reduce the number of visitors by 2.1 million a year.

Transport Minister Keith Brown said: “Scotland will welcome the world in 2014 courtesy of the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup, and yet we are in the absurd situation of increasing costs for people who intend to visit Scotland.

“The ‘World Economic Forum, Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013’ shows that the UK has amongst the highest aviation taxes and charges in the world, ranked 139th out of 140.

“I would urge the UK Government to deliver devolution of APD as soon as possible so that we can develop a regime that makes Scotland more competitive.”

Gordon Dewar, chief executive of Edinburgh Airport, said airlines are questioning the viability of basing planes in Scotland because of APD.

He said: “This tax has now hit its tipping point where the damage that it is doing to Scotland far outweighs the benefits. It cannot stand and must be reviewed as a matter of urgency.

“Airlines are telling us that they are seeing it have an impact on passenger flows which is ultimately having an impact on their decision making on where to put planes. This means that our country has to work harder to get the connections it requires.

“The evidence lays bare the argument that this tax is assisting with the deficit. Rather, APD is hindering our ability to tackle the economic challenges Scotland faces.”

Edinburgh Zoo celebrates first anniversary of pandas arrival

One year ago Tian Tian and Yang Guang arrived at Edinburgh Zoo amid worldwide interest after a 5,000- mile flight from China into Edinburgh Airport.
Since then, more than half a million visitors have been to see the animals, who are set to stay in Scotland for another nine years.The arrival of the pandas has been a massive commercial success for the Zoo.
Iain Valentine, Director of Research and Conservation at the zoo, said much has been learnt about the species over the last 12 months.
“Looking back on this, our first giant panda year, it has been a great success,” he said.
The only disappointing thing about the pandas has been their failure to mate. Pandas have a limited breeding season and did not manage to mate this year, although Mr Valentine says he has high hopes for 2013.

Edinburgh Airport introduces new egates

Edinburgh Airport is introducing electronic security gates (e-gates) that are designed to speed-up the immigration process.

It will be the first installation of e-gates at a Scottish airport. Five e-gates will be installed in the next two weeks; they will be available to UK and EU travellers with an e-Passport.

Details from an electronic chip contained in the e-Passport will be compared with an image of the passenger’s face taken at the e-gate, replacing the traditional manual check by UK Border Agency officials.

The airport handled 9.3 million passengers in 2011 and the new e-gates will help ease congestion at peak times.

Meanwhile, two additional X-ray machines will be installed in the hand-baggage search area in May, increasing the total to 12. A new passenger and hand-baggage security check area was opened as part of a major terminal extension in 2010.