Independence could be positive - BA

Halstead Gazette: Willie Walsh has claimed that Scottish independence could be positive for British Airways Willie Walsh has claimed that Scottish independence could be positive for British Airways

Scottish independence could be "a positive development" for the UK's flagship airline British Airways, the chief executive of the firm's parent group has said.

Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group (IAG), said the Scottish Government's policy on air passenger duty (APD) meant that a Yes vote would be "marginally positive" for the industry.

When asked about contingency plans ahead of the September referendum during an interview on BBC Breakfast, Mr Walsh said: "If anything, it might be marginally positive because, I suspect, the Scottish Government will abolish air passenger duty because they recognise the huge impact that tax has on their economy.

"So, it is probably going to be a positive development, if it does happen, for British Airways."

The Scottish Government's white paper on independence outlines plans to reduce APD by 50% to boost international connections.

The SNP says this reduction would be "with a view to abolishing it completely".

The tax is currently reserved to Westminster.

Mr Walsh's comments were welcomed by the Scottish Government.

Transport minister Keith Brown said: "Willie Walsh - the CEO of a group which includes British Airways amongst its portfolio - can clearly see the opportunities of independence.

"A boost to tourism and travel in Scotland will have a positive impact on growth."

A Better Together spokesman said: "Breaking up the most successful economic, political and social union in history for the sake of a tax on holidays doesn't seem like the strongest argument.

"As the intervention from Standard Life made abundantly clear, leaving the UK would cost jobs here in Scotland.

"Alex Salmond's failure to tell us what will replace the pound means companies like Standard Life and RBS, which employ thousands of people in Scotland, have warned about the big risks involved in going it alone. "

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