An independent Scotland could benefit British Airways, said Willie Walsh, chief executive of the airline’s parent company IAG.
Walsh told BBC Breakfast that the Scottish government recognised the negative impact of Air Passenger Duty (APD) on the economy, and plans to reduce and eventually abolish it could be a positive development for BA.
In the White Paper on independence, the Scottish government said APD would cost Scotland “more than £200m a year” in lost tourism expenditure. If there is a “Yes” vote in the referendum, an independent Scotland pledges to reduce APD by 50%, then abolish the tax completely “when public finances allow”.
Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown welcomed Mr Walsh’s intervention: “Willie Walsh can clearly see the opportunities of independence. A boost to tourism and travel in Scotland will have a positive impact on growth.
“Mr Walsh’s comments further underline the UK government’s duty to engage properly with the issues of the independence debate.”
However, the Better Together campaign said APD was not the “strongest argument” for independence, and that jobs would be lost with a “Yes” vote.
A spokesman told the BBC: “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.”