It was a dream day for airlines. First, oil prices turned the clocks back to 2010. Then the Smith Commission on Scottish devolution called for Holyrood to be handed control over air passenger duty (APD). The Scottish National Party has pledged to cut or even scrap the tax.
Willie Walsh, chief executive of the British Airways owner IAG, said: “Removing Scottish APD would see passengers rushing across the border to avoid paying the punitive tax at Newcastle, Manchester or any other English airport. Who could blame them? A family of four flying to the US would save £276 by heading north.”
Hopes that a cut to the tax would boost air travel helped IAG soar 21p to 457.8p, while easyJet accelerated 88p to 1,633p. Meanwhile the dip in oil prices buoyed other travel companies: TUI Travel rose 15.8p to 433.3p and the cruise operator Carnival sailed 58p higher to 2,697p.
The FTSE 100 declined by 5.75 points to 6,723.42, with oil producers and satellite industries falling off a cliff, cleaving 39.75 points from the blue-chip index.
J Sainsbury lost 5.1p to 233.9p as Shore Capital’s Clive Black downgraded the supermarket, saying recent interim results “confirmed our fears that it is set for a period of sustained earnings per share decline as management transfer value from shareholders to customers”.
Legal & General, 1.3p better at 245.2p, revealed its presence on the share register of the power generator Drax, off 1.5p at 606.5p.
The mobile payment specialist Monitise climbed 3.5p to 34p as it expanded its commercial agreements with Santander, Telefonica and MasterCard, which all agreed a £49.2m investment in the company through a placing. Monitise said the investment will help “accelerate the rollout of our global platform capabilities”.
The company tumbled by a quarter in September after a major shareholder, Visa, said it was considering selling its stake and developing rival mobile payment capabilities.
The spirit maker Distil rocketed 0.42p to 1.35p after its Blackwoods gin brand gained approval for sale in America, the biggest market for British gin in the world.