Transport Airlines

More than half of UK legislators want government to consider scrapping high air taxes

Sep 11, 2012 12:26 pm

Skift Take

The air tax has the dual purpose of both raising tax revenues and discouraging air travel — ostensibly to help the environment. Instead, it’s seen as a hostile imposition that discourages travel and trade.

— Jason Clampet

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More than half of MPs believe the Government should consider reducing the rate of air tax paid by British travellers, new research has shown.

The ComRes survey, commissioned by Abta, the travel association, revealed that, of more than 150 MPs questioned, 51 per cent thought a reduction in Air Passenger Duty (APD) – paid by all passengers flying from British airports – may benefit the economy.

Nearly half of MPs said that the high rate of air tax paid by British travellers is hindering growth, while two in five politicians said the tax is damaging Britain’s position as a hub for global air travel.

Conservative MPs are the most likely to oppose APD, according to the survey. More than six in ten said that the Government ought to consider cutting the tax.

Abta said the survey proves that the issue is resonating with a growing number of British politicians – particularly Conservative backbenchers.

“At a time when we are facing one of the toughest ever downturns in history, the Government must take every measure to get the country back on track to growth,” said Mark Tanzer, Abta chief executive. “The very fact that half of MPs believe current rates of APD are damaging the economy is a clear indication we need a review into the impact of this tax before it does any further damage.”

So far more nearly 100 MPs, including former Liberal Democrat leaders Charles Kennedy and Sir Menzies Campbell, and the Conservative 1922 Committee Chairman Graham Brady, have also signed a parliamentary motion calling for the Government to rethink its policy on APD.

A growing number of ordinary travellers would also like to see a reduction in air tax.

Abta, along with dozens of travel firms and airport operators, recently set up the website www.afairtaxonflying.org, which allows Britons to email their local MP calling for an inquiry into the economic impact of APD. So far more than 100,000 people have used the website to register their opposition to the tax.

APD has been criticised for pricing ordinary British families out of flying, discouraging foreign holidaymakers (who pay the tax on their return) from visiting, as well as damaging the economies of countries – such as those in the Caribbean – that are heavily reliant on tourism.

Following the most recent rise in APD, an eight per cent increase in April, a family of four travelling to Europe must pay £52 in tax, while those flying farther afield are hit even harder.

A family of four flying to New York, for example, are liable for £260 in APD, one visiting the Caribbean must pay £324, while those heading to Australia are hit with a £368 tax bill. Those figures are doubled for anyone flying in premium economy, business-class or first-class cabins.

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