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More than 100,000 British holidaymakers have lent their support to a campaign calling for Air Passenger Duty (APD) to be cut or abolished.
The campaign, launched in June by an alliance of more than 30 airlines and tour operators, allows Britons to register their opposition to the tax directly with the local MP.
Visitors to the website www.afairtaxonflying.com are required to enter their name, postcode and email address – a template email is then automatically sent to their MP expressing disapproval at the “unacceptable” level of tax paid by travellers flying from the UK.
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 a 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.
APD has been criticised for pricing ordinary British families out of flying, discouraging foreign holidaymakers (who pay the tax on their return) from visiting these shores, and damaging the economies of countries – such as those in the Caribbean – that are heavily reliant on tourism. No other country taxes air passengers to such an extent, and further rises are planned next year.
A spokesman for the campaign said its success would “put renewed pressure on the Treasury to find ways to reduce the impact of the tax on ordinary travellers and British businesses”.
The campaign would also appear to be persuading MPs about the issue’s importance. Since the campaign was launched, 75 MPs – including former Liberal Democrat leaders Charles Kennedy and Sir Menzies Campbell, and the Conservative 1922 Committee Chairman Graham Brady, have signed a parliamentary motion calling for more research into the impact of APD.
Mark Tanzer, chief executive of ABTA, the travel association, said: “MPs and Government ministers have ignored the economic impacts of higher and higher APD for too long. With 100,000 people calling for a review into the effects this tax is having on our economy and the affordability of air travel, the Government cannot ignore APD any longer.”
Travel firms have recently sought to highlight the issue by waiving the tax on selected flights and holidays. Thomas Cook is launching an APD-free sale this week on selected long-haul packages, saving a family of four up to £324. Virgin Atlantic ran a similar offer last month on flights to Cancun.