Scottish Government scraps plans to cut air departure tax
Ministers' long-standing plans to halve the flight tax is ditched to meet climate targets.
The Scottish Government has scrapped long-standing plans to cut air departure tax (ADT) by 50%, saying the policy "is no longer compatible" with climate targets.
Finance secretary Derek Mackay announced the move on Tuesday ahead of the current UK air passenger duty being devolved to Scotland.
The SNP had pledged in its 2016 Holyrood manifesto to halve the renamed flight tax by 2021, in a £150m tax break for the sector.
But the policy is not backed by any other party in Scottish Parliament apart from the Conservatives, and ministers had been under pressure to ditch it.
It comes after Nicola Sturgeon declared a "climate emergency" at SNP conference at the end of last month, with her administration committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2045.
However, the Scottish Government said it still intends to maintain air tax exemptions for the Highlands and Islands region.
Unveiling the U-turn, Mackay said: "All parts of government and society have a contribution to make to meeting this challenge - and reducing air departure tax is no longer compatible with more ambitious climate targets.
"We continue to support our tourism industry, which is going from strength to strength, and we will work with the sector to develop in a sustainable way.
"We welcome their efforts - and those of the aviation industry - to reduce carbon emissions.
"The fact is that the Scottish Parliament has never been able to use powers over aviation tax, given that the UK Government failed to devolve them in a fit state."
The finance secretary added: "Air connectivity is critical for the Highlands and Islands, and our position on the existing exemption is unchanged - it must remain in place to protect remote and rural communities.
"We will continue to work with the UK Government to fix the devolution of air departure tax to ensure that future parliaments can decide on the best policy for Scotland's interests in line with our climate ambitions."