Written evidence submitted by Bristol Airport (AAS0009)


Bristol Airport is supporting the submission made to the Committee by our trade body, the Airports Operating Association (AOA). The below is a short piece of additional information that we believe will be of use to the Committee’s inquiry.


About Bristol Airport

Bristol Airport is central to the economy of the South West of England and is one of the region’s largest private sector employers. In 2019, the Airport supported almost 4,000 on-site direct jobs, and c.25,000 indirect jobs, bringing around £1.7 billion Gross Value Added (GVA) to the South West.


Bristol Airport is pioneering sustainability and aims to achieve net zero operations by 2030. We are working with our region’s unique cluster of aerospace companies and universities to decarbonise flight.


Recovery of the UK aviation sector:

As set out in the AOA’s response, the financial impact of the pandemic on airports has been severe. Numerous support mechanisms are proposed for the short-term but beyond this, one of the most significant steps the UK Government could take would come at no cost to the Exchequer.


Allowing the introduction of duty free shopping at arrivals would have a significant positive impact on airports and other ports of entry. Independent economic research[1] found that this change would increase passenger spend by 20-30%, providing a stable and long-term income that enables airports to recover without relying on taxpayer funds.  


The reform would be cost neutral for the UK Government as sales are a repatriation of duty free sales that would happen outside of the UK, with no negative impact on tax revenue. Duty free arrivals was previously under the remit of the European Union, who currently prevent it in Member States, so its introduction would be a demonstrable Brexit benefit and align with the UK Government’s ‘Global Britain’ ambitions. The practice of duty free arrivals has been introduced in virtually all major airports in Asia, the Middle East, Australasia, and non-EU European nations.


Finally, duty free at arrivals would support the Levelling Up agenda as regional airports are expected to benefit most from its introduction. Retail sales can account for as much as 40% of total revenue in some regional airports – highlighting the critical role retail plays in supporting regional connectivity in the UK.


Regional connectivity:

As recognised in the Union Connectivity Review’s Interim Report, transport connectivity is vital to economic growth, job creation, and social cohesion. Great Britain’s higher rate of Air Passenger Duty (APD) than neighbouring countries and ‘double domestic APD’ for return flights has led to a decline in domestic connectivity and provided a competitive advantage to foreign airports.


A reduced and reformed APD would lead to an improvement in connectivity between the regions and nations of the UK. Bristol Airport is the gateway to the South West of England and South Wales, linking it with Teesside, Newcastle, Northern Ireland, and Scotland, destinations that either cannot be reached by rail or take five or more hours. There is the opportunity to increase the number of destinations, the frequency of flights, and increase competition on existing routes, reducing costs for customers.


As demonstrated by York Aviation’s research[2], regional airports are expected to take longer to recover their levels of connectivity following the pandemic compared to London airports.



Bristol Airport will achieve carbon neutral operations this year and aim to achieve net zero operations by 2030, which was positively referenced in the UK Government’s recent Jet Zero consultation. By 2050, Bristol Airport as a whole will be carbon net zero, meaning all of the companies that operate from or provide services to the airport, including the airlines, will be contributing to the UK’s carbon net zero economy.


Bristol Airport is currently targeting its scope 3 emissions, including aviation and surface access.


The UK’s leading aerospace and aviation sectors mean that being a ‘first mover’ to decarbonise flight would have the benefit of creating high-skilled green jobs. This should be a key consideration when writing recommendations in this area:



October 2021




[1] The Impact of Duty Free Arrivals Shops on Domestic Markets and Government Revenue, York Aviation - published August 2021

[2] The Demand and Connectivity Impact of a 12 Month Air Passenger Duty Waiver, York Aviation - July 2020