Publication - Consultation analysis

Replacement to Air Passenger Duty (APD): consultation analysis

Published: 29 Jul 2016
Economic Development Directorate
Part of:

An analysis of the responses to the consultation on a tax to replace Air Passenger Duty (APD).

94 page PDF

803.8 kB

94 page PDF

803.8 kB

Replacement to Air Passenger Duty (APD): consultation analysis
1. Introduction

94 page PDF

803.8 kB

1. Introduction

1.1. This report presents an overview of findings from analysis of responses to the Scottish Government's policy consultation on a Scottish replacement to Air Passenger Duty.

The consultation

1.2. The policy consultation sought views on proposals for a tax to replace Air Passenger Duty ( APD) in Scotland from April 2018. The consultation document sets out that the replacement tax is intended to boost Scotland's international connectivity and help deliver the Scottish Government's strategic objective of sustainable growth. The Scottish Government has announced its intention to reduce the burden of the replacement tax by 50%, beginning in April 2018 and delivered in full by the end of the current session of the Scottish Parliament. The consultation document also makes clear that the Scottish Government's intention is for the tax to be abolished "when resources allow".

1.3. The consultation period ran from 14 March 2016 with responses invited by 3 June 2016. The consultation exercise included two distinct strands:

  • A policy consultation on proposals for a Scottish APD replacement tax [1] ; and
  • A consultation on the Strategic Environmental Assessment ( SEA) Screening and Scoping Report for the Scottish APD replacement tax [2] .

1.4. This report presents an analysis of responses to the policy consultation, and incorporates feedback submitted via an APD "Dialogue" webpage [3] . A separate analysis has been undertaken of responses to the SEA Screening and Scoping Report, and this can be found at

1.5. In addition to setting out detailed proposals for the replacement tax, the policy consultation document included 34 questions where respondents' views were sought. Most questions incorporated a 'closed' yes/no element, although all give respondents an opportunity to provide written comment. The consultation questions related to each of the main elements of the proposed replacement tax, including:

  • The strategic and policy objectives for improving Scotland's air connectivity, to which the replacement tax is expected to contribute;
  • The scope and structure of the replacement tax including tax bands and rates;
  • Exemptions for certain passengers and flights;
  • How the replacement tax will be applied to connected flights;
  • Arrangements for taxpayer registration under the replacement tax;
  • Arrangements for fiscal and administrative representatives;
  • Arrangements for tax returns and payment; and
  • Other administrative arrangements including record keeping, enforcement and penalties.

Overview of responses

1.6. The final number of submissions received was 160. Of these, 76 were submitted by group respondents and 84 by individual members of the public. A profile of respondents by type is set out in Table 1.1 below.

Table 1.1: Profile of Respondents


% of all respondents

Airlines and airline representatives



Airports and airport representatives



Other transport and travel organisations



Business, economic development and tourism organisations



Professional tax and accountancy organisations



Environmental organisations



Other organisations



Group respondents (Total)









1.7. Seven broad respondent types have been used to categorise group respondents for the main analysis. These respondent types have been developed in response to the number and profile of responses received, and seek to reflect the range of sectors and interests represented. As such, this typology is a move away from the standard categories used in the respondent form for the consultation. The seven categories are summarised below:

  • 12 airline and airline representative respondents included airlines and professional and representative bodies for the sector.
  • 8 airport and airport representative respondents again included airport respondents and professional and representative bodies.
  • 13 other transport and travel respondents comprised a mix of organisations involved in non-aviation travel including those providing travel services, a number of Transport Partnerships, professional and representative bodies, and campaign organisations.
  • 25 business, economic development and tourism respondents. This diverse set of respondents included a mix of trade representative bodies, public sector organisations with a specific focus on business and economic development, and third sector organisations. This group also includes 13 Scottish chambers of commerce who submitted standard text responses.
  • 2 professional tax and accountancy organisations.
  • 6 environmental organisations included a mix of public bodies, third sector and campaign organisations with a specific environmental focus.
  • 10 'other' organisations represent a range of interests and include local authorities, other public bodies, parliamentary organisations, representative bodies and third sector organisations.

1.8. Reflecting the range of sectors and interests represented, there was some variation across submissions in focus on specific elements of the proposals set out in the consultation document. For example, a large majority of respondents answered questions in relation to the objectives for the replacement tax, while relatively few addressed more detailed aspects of the administration of the tax.

1.9. In addition to comments addressing proposals for the replacement tax, several respondents expressed concerns regarding the consultation process itself. This included reference to the timing of the consultation after a commitment has already been made to reduce APD; a perception that the profile of the APD stakeholder forum is weighted in favour of aviation industry organisations and others who are most likely to benefit from a cut in APD; concern that research cited by the consultation document on the economic benefits of a reduction in APD was commissioned by the aviation industry; and perceptions that the consultation document is weighted in favour of a reduction in APD in places, for example reference to description of APD rates as high relative to the rest of the world without contextual information on other tax exemptions to the aviation industry in the UK.

Reporting approach

1.10. The remainder of this report presents a question by question analysis of responses given at each of the 34 consultation questions. The report mirrors the consultation document in being structured around the main elements of the proposed replacement tax.

1.11. The results of the 'Yes/No' questions for 26 of the 34 questions are presented in tabular form. A number of respondents did not make their submission on the consultation questionnaire, or submitted additional free text documents that were not structured around the consultation questions. This material was analysed in relation to the most directly relevant consultation questions or sections, to ensure that the report considered the full range of material provided by respondents.

1.12. Statistical analysis was not appropriate for the qualitative written responses included in submissions. However, in considering the balance of views expressed we use the following reporting conventions:

  • "A small number" to refer to 5 or fewer respondents.
  • "Several" or "some" to refer to between 5 and 10 respondents;
  • "A substantial number or proportion" to refer to more than 10, but less than half of respondents.
  • "Most or "the majority" to refer to more than half of respondents.

1.13. While the 50% reduction in APD (and subsequent abolition when resources allow) noted above is an important part of the context to the proposed approach to the Scottish APD replacement tax, this was not a specific focus for the consultation questions. However, the majority of consultation respondents made some reference to the reduction in APD, and it was clear that for a substantial number of respondents their views on this policy commitment had a significant impact on their response to the main body of the consultation. We therefore provide a summary of the key points raised by respondents in relation to the principle of a 50% reduction and subsequent abolition of APD at Section 2 of this report, to place some of the subsequent findings in context.

1.14. Most of the respondents commenting on the proposed reduction in APD raised some form of environmental concern or objection. Similar concerns were also raised in relation to specific aspects of the proposed approach to the replacement tax. While these comments were provided in response to the policy consultation, clearly they also have a direct bearing on the SEA consultation. In recognition of this, and to ensure that all views have been incorporated consistently within the two analysis reports, within this report we provide an overview of the main environmental issues raised by respondents and how they relate to views on the proposed replacement tax. Environmental concerns, and some of the evidence cited in support of these, are considered in further detail within the SEA Screening and Scoping Report consultation analysis which can be found at


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