A cut to domestic air tax in the Chancellor’s budget caused a major row on the eve of the global summit on climate change.
Rishi Sunak announced a new lower rate for air passenger duty, welcomed by Aberdeen airport and regional business leaders.
But the SNP and environment groups condemned the move as damaging and said it sends the wrong signal ahead of COP26 in Glasgow.
Mr Sunak said nine million passengers will see the duty cut by half from April 2023.
“It will bring people together across the United Kingdom,” he said.
Long haulers pay more
The Chancellor also said he would reduce carbon emissions from aviation.
A new “ultra long haul” band will be added to flights longer than 5,500 miles.
It means just 5% of passengers will pay more.
Aberdeen airport owners AGS said: “This is both a welcome and much-needed announcement that comes as we begin the long process of rebuilding our domestic connectivity, which was decimated following the pandemic.”
The climate emergency should have been the centre-piece of this spending review ahead of the most critical UK-hosted climate talks in years.
Liz cameron, from the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said the decision gives the sector a “ray of hope”.
She was only disappointed it will not come into effect sooner.
“Ultimately both Holyrood and Westminster Government’s should be seeking to further reduce or remove APD altogether,” she added.
It was backed by Aberdeenshire Tory MP Andrew Bowie who said: “Halving APD for Aberdeen domestic services from April 2023 will help drive economic growth in the north-east.”
Cheaper to fly between UK cities
However, Rebecca Newsom, head of politics at Greenpeace UK, said: “The climate emergency should have been the centre-piece of this spending review ahead of the most critical UK-hosted climate talks in years, but Sunak spent more time discussing duty on domestic cider.”
She accused him of “actively making things worse by making it cheaper to fly between UK cities”.
The SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, was scathing.
Addressing Mr Sunak in the Commons, Mr Blackford said: “Chancellor, this is a disgrace and shows quite frankly that this is not a Government that understands the climate challenge that we all face and the Chancellor should withdraw and remove that proposal.
“Cop26 kicks off this weekend, what on earth are we doing when we’re saying to the rest of the worl