HEALTH, education and other services will suffer if the SNP use millions cutting airport tax for the "wealthy", Scottish Labour has claimed.

With the annual budget process getting underway, Labour urged Finance Secretary Derek Mackay to abandon plans to slash air passenger duty from next year.

All other parties at Holyrood bar the Tories oppose the measure, which is expected to cost £190m a year by 2021/22.

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Air Passenger Duty currently adds between £13 and £26 to the price of a short-haul ticket for a flight from a UK airport and £75 to £150 for flights over 2000 miles.

Next April, APD will cease to exist in Scotland and be replaced by a devolved version, Air Departure Tax, which the SNP have vowed to halve by the end of the current parliament, and abolish when finances permit.

The government says it will boost air travel and the economy, while critics said it is a poor use of public funds and warn pollution from extra flights will add to climate change.

Labour MSP Neil Bibby said the £189m in lost revenue in 2021/22 was more than the £120m the SNP expected to spend on closing the attainment gap in schools.

He said: “It cannot be right that when we have a shortage of teachers and falling numeracy and literacy standards, the SNP is planning to lower taxes for frequent flyers."

Green MSP Patrick Harvie added: “This will take cash from public purse and hand it to the wealthiest; just the kind of thing the SNP rightly condemn Tories for doing at Westminster.”

“It is time for Derek Mackay to abandon this policy before he unveils his draft budget. If he doesn’t, he will need to explain where the £189m will be taken from to fund this tax cut.”

A spokesperson for Mr Mackay said: “Neil Bibby has still to apologise for spreading false smears about Scotrail trains earlier in the week – and until he does, no one can trust a word he says on anything.

“The fact is, Labour are still unable to offer any credible suggestions as to how they would boost Scotland’s international connectivity.”