Passenger duty at Exeter Airport will be halved from 2023 in a move that has been celebrated by East Devon MP Simon Jupp.
But the change has been panned as ‘catastrophic’ by a leading city councillor, writes Local Democracy Reporter Joe Ives.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the tax will be cut from £13 to £6.50 for domestic flights.
The Treasury believes this will give the UK airline industry a much-needed boost by making air travel cheaper for around nine million passengers.
Critics have pointed to the devastating impact of flying on the environment.
According to Climate Change Committee (CCC), an independent statutory body that reports to parliament, aviation emissions accounted for seven per cent of all UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2018.
East Devon MP Mr Jupp, a member of the Government’s Transport Committee, said he was ‘delighted’ by the move.
He has been campaigning for the reduction to help support Exeter Airport, which is in his constituency.
Mr Jupp also praised the announcement that financial support for English airports, put in place because of the pandemic, would be extended for a further six months.
He added: “It shows that the Chancellor recognises the challenges currently facing regional airports as we emerge from the pandemic.
“Exeter Airport helps to keep our region connected and competitive and I’m delighted that my campaign helped to make a difference.”
St Davids representative Councillor Diana Moore, co-leader of the Progressive Group on Exeter City Council slammed the decision as ‘a huge own goal for the Tories’.
She added: “It absolutely flies in the face of any attempt by the Government to show any kind of climate leadership.
“The prospect of making flights between Exeter and London even more economically viable is really catastrophic at a time when we face such a huge climate crisis.
“We don’t need to fly to London for meetings or go off on short trips for our second homes. What we really need in the South West is an affordable rail network and we need serious investment in the bus network.
“That will bring greater benefit to rural people and reduce pollution and congestion in Exeter and provide greater levelling up and connectivity.
“If we’re serious about jobs and serious about the environment we should not be investing in Exeter Airport.”
Flights are not currently available between Exeter and London. The last airline to provide such a service, Exeter-based Flybe, went bust before the coronavirus pandemic.
Scottish airline LoganAir and one serving the Channel Islands, Blue Islands, have picked up some of Flybe’s former routes.
But passengers numbers at Exeter Airport are still well below pre-pandemic figures.