Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian, today responded to comments made by Nicola Sturgeon at First Minister's Questions, and urged her to ditch government plans to scrap air passenger duty and instead look at ways to make highly-profitable, heavily-polluting airlines pay a fairer share of tax.aj at conf for web

At First Minister's Questions, Nicola Sturgeon said her government would "continue to take a balanced approach that prioritises economic growth."

Airlines already pay little VAT and absolutely no fuel duty, despite the environmental consequences.

The Scottish Government's policy to scrap the duty would increase climate change emissions by 60,000 tonnes a year. Since the Climate Change Act was passed in 2009 Scotland has put nearly ten million tonnes more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than targets allow.

Alison Johnstone MSP said:

"The First Minister's refusal to budge on this issue is deeply disappointing. This is a further tax break for highly profitable big businesses. It's as far removed from social justice as you can get.

"Official figures show that the UK loses £15 billion a year as visitors who fly here spend less than we spend when we fly abroad. Encouraging air travel will not close that gap.

"Such privileged treatment for big business and wealthy frequent flyers will make austerity worse for people in Scotland, most of whom are not frequent flyers. The shortfall in revenue will further harm our public services.

"It's not too late for the First Minister to rethink her stance, as she has already done with her previous position on cutting corporation tax."

"We will continue to take a balanced approach that prioritises economic growth..." (Official Report of FMQs)