At yesterday’s PATA Exchange event in London, Martin Craigs, Chief Executive of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, told Neil Steedman, ITTN’s News and Features Editor: “The UK Air Passenger Duty has become a detention tax – a tax against freedom of movement. PATA is working with IATA on this and PATA Chapters worldwide are being asked to lobby British ambassadors and high commissioners.”
Meanwhile, four UK airlines have warned that families are facing taxes of up to £500 to fly to some of the most popular holiday destinations. Ahead of the 21st March UK Budget, easyJet, British Airways’ parent IAG, Ryanair and Virgin Atlantic jointly attacked Treasury plans to follow rises in Air Passenger Duty from 1st April with further increases intended to grow APD revenue by 46% by 2016.
These increases would mean a family of four paying tax of £440 to fly Economy Class to the Caribbean, and £500 to Australia. In 2005, a family of four travelling to any long-haul destination would have paid just £80. A family of four in Scotland or Northern Ireland flying to see friends or relatives in England three times a year would have an APD bill of £420. In 2005, it would have been £120.
The airlines’ chief executives, Carolyn McCall, Willie Walsh, Michael O’Leary and Steve Ridgway, said: “These endless cumulative increases in APD are pricing families out of flying – both from and to the UK. That means fewer visitors to the UK, which destroys jobs in our tourism, aviation and hospitality industries – and chokes off opportunities for young people at a time of exceptional youth unemployment.
“CAA figures have confirmed this week that UK passenger numbers in 2011 were at the same level as in 2004. Seven years of rising taxes have brought seven years of no growth.
“Aviation wants to, and should be, playing a leading role in economic recovery – as it does in so many other countries. But the UK imposes the highest aviation taxes in the world, and keeps on increasing them without any analysis whatever of their overall economic impact. We are exporting economic growth, and jobs, to competitor countries. How much longer must this madness go on?
“We call on the Chancellor to suspend the 1st April rises in APD, and those planned up to 2016, while the Treasury commissions an independent study of the economic effects of this job-destroying tax.
“We are confident such a study would show that APD’s damage to economic activity outweighs the revenue obtained. It is irresponsible of the Treasury, if it is serious about pursuing economic growth, to keep piling on APD increases without conducting a study of this kind.”