Newcastle and Bristol airports could be the biggest losers when Air Passenger Duty (APD) is devolved to Scotland.
The Scottish government last week confirmed that it planned to cut APD by 50% in 2018, after it is given the power to set the aviation tax by the UK government with ambitions to abolish APD completely “when resources allow”.
There have also been proposals to devolve APD to the Welsh Assembly.
A group of eight regional English airports have joined forces to lobby chancellor George Osborne to call for any reductions in APD from Scotland to be matched at all “non-congested” airports elsewhere in the UK.
The eight airports, including Newcastle, Bristol and Birmingham, have commissioned a report from York Aviation, which shows that their passenger numbers could plunge by 2.2 million per year by 2025 if APD is reduced in Scotland and Wales but not for flights from their airports.
The study found that Newcastle could lose around 510,000 passengers per year within 10 years – around 10% of its total annual traffic – if APD reductions in Scotland are not matched.
Bristol could lose about 5% of its traffic – 440,000 passengers – to Cardiff if APD rates are cut in Wales but not in England.
The eight airports were responding to a discussion paper launched by the government to look at how regional airports in England can be supported in the wake of the devolution of APD to Scotland and potentially to Wales.
David Laws, Newcastle International’s chief executive, said: “If the government were to agree to our preferred option, our modelling shows that Newcastle International would be protected from the impacts of devolution to Scotland.
“Our modelling shows that if a 50% reduction in Scotland is matched at non-congested airports across the rest of the country, then passenger numbers at English regional airports would be boosted by up to 6.5 million per year by 2025.
“If a 100% reduction in Scotland is matched then the number would be boosted by 16.5 million per year by 2025.”