MSPs will vote this week on scrapping a £150 million tax break for the airline industry in an attempt to force Nicola Sturgeon to axe the controversial policy.
Scottish Labour will use its Holyrood time to vote on the Scottish Government’s plans to cut Air Departure Tax (ADT) by half before abandoning it altogether when resources allow.
Labour has taken the step after the first minister hinted last week that she may U-turn on the flagship policy.
The prospect of Ms Sturgeon abandoning the policy came when she was put under pressure from political opponents arguing that it would contribute to climate change.
Although a “non-binding” vote, Labour hopes that a Holyrood vote against the proposal would increase pressure on Ms Sturgeon to drop it.
Scottish Government plans to replace the existing Air Passenger Duty (APD) with a devolved ADT levy, which would then be cut, have already been delayed.
Last night local Tory politicians said ditching the policy altogether would be bad news for Aberdeen International Airport, which has said APD has contributed to the loss of flights to London Gatwick and London City.
Alexander Burnett, Conservative Aberdeenshire West MSP, said: “If the SNP scrap this manifesto pledge, it will be a slap in the face for travellers and business leaders who campaigned for a reduction in APD and were promised it would happen.
“Analysis of this policy said a failure to implement a 50% cut would cost the Scottish tourism industry tens of millions of pounds annually and reduce passenger numbers by one million a year. It will also add to the difficulties already faced by airports like Aberdeen, where key routes to and from London have recently been axed.”
Ms Sturgeon signalled she was considering dropping the policy after she declared a “climate emergency” at the recent SNP conference and signed up to ambitious climate change targets.
The Scottish Government has already deferred ADT introduction until after April 2020.
When urged to ditch the policy at first minister’s questions last week, Ms Sturgeon said the “scale of the government’s ambition” when it comes to tackling climate change meant policies would have to be reconsidered.
Labour transport spokesman Colin Smyth said: “Scotland needs to face up to the climate emergency our planet faces. That’s why the misguided policy of cutting air departure tax needs to go.
“As it stands her flagship policy would further contribute to climate change and only make it worse.”