RAISING taxes for passengers travelling from UK airports was branded a "massive slap in the face" last night by the Scottish Government, which said its efforts to devolve control north of the Border had been snubbed.

Resisting calls from the aviation industry to lower Air Passenger Duty (APD), Chancellor George Osborne confirmed that the hike deferred from 2011 would take effect from next month, together with this year's increase.

The combined effect will be an increase of nearly 10%, adding about £250 to the cost for a family of four flying to Florida and about £360 more to the cost for a four-person family flying to Australia.

The move was greeted with anger from airlines, airport owners and businesses, and provoked a spat with the Scottish Government which described it as "a massive slap in the face for passengers, operators and Scotland's economy".

A spokesman said Scotland's case had been strengthened by the decision to devolve power over APD on long-haul to Northern Ireland. "In recent years, we have seen successive increases in the rates of APD, and with travel to and from Scotland so heavily reliant on air services, this has increased costs substantially for Scots and visitors to our country alike," the spokesman said.

"The case for Scotland to control APD is compelling, and is backed by all four of Scotland's major airports. Since the UK Government has now confirmed that a measure of APD is being devolved to Northern Ireland, it is clear that Scotland must be given control of APD, allowing the Scottish Government to put plans in place to take advantage of this much-needed new power."

The decision on APD was accompanied by a shift in Coalition policy on building new airport capacity in the south-east of England following the refusal to build a third runway at Heathrow, with Mr Osborne conceding: "We cannot cut ourselves off from the fastest-growing cities in the world." Transport Secretary Justine Greening has been tasked with setting out the Government's thinking by late summer, including consideration of the Thames Estuary airport favoured by London Mayor Boris Johnson.