THE UK government will not devolve Air Passenger Duty (APD) to Wales, it was confirmed today (Friday), in a move branded "unreasonable" by Welsh ministers.

The UK parliament’s Welsh Affairs Committee had recommended the devolution of the tax to Wales by 2021, placing Wales on an equal footing with Scotland and Northern Ireland, and hopefully boosting Cardiff Airport.

The committee also suggested the unwillingness of the UK Government to devolve APD to Wales raised a question of equity in the devolution process.

But the UK government blocked those plans on Friday, saying increased tax competition in the aviation market would negatively impact Bristol Airport – which the government said served the same market as Cardiff Airport, 63 miles away.


The UK government’s position "defies logic", Wales' finance minister, Rebecca Evans, said.

"On the one hand it argues that devolving APD to Wales would give Cardiff Airport an unfair advantage over other regional UK airports because it believes we would cut rates – while on the other hand the secretary of state for Wales has said he is concerned that Wales would increase rates," she said.

“But devolving APD would mean Wales would have the right to design a system that works for Wales – not the Westminster government.

“This decision does nothing to prove the prime minister’s promise to unleash the productive power of the whole of the UK."

Wales' economy and transport minister, Ken Skates, said: “This unreasonable decision constrains our ability to promote Wales to overseas markets, at a time when it’s needed most.

“The UK government needs to wake up to the clear case to devolve this power for the benefit of Wales and the UK as a whole.”

Support for the devolution of APD had been widespread in Wales. In July, AMs voted unanimously in favour of devolution, and in August, Monmouth MP David Davies – who chairs the Welsh Affairs Committee – wrote to the Wales Office seeking their support on the matter.

Today's decision had not disheartened supporters of devolution, Ms Evans said.

“We know there is unanimous support from across the aviation, tourism and business sectors in Wales for APD to be devolved, and we will continue to press the UK government to change its position,” she added.