Hot on the heels of the World Travel & Tourism Council’s protests about the new carbon tax recently approved by the Australian government, UK ministers are facing fresh attacks over Britain’s very own version – Air Passenger Duty (APD)
APD has come under fire ever since it was first implemented in 1994, but attacks have intensified ever since rates were increased dramatically in 2008-9. Airlines and travel bodies have complained that the tax unfairly penalises long-haul flights to certain destinations – most notably the Caribbean – and prevents carriers and tour operators from offering as many cheap holidays as they would like.
This week, a conglomeration of travel groups operating in the south east of England accused ministers of “dragging down” airport-based businesses in the region by continuing to champion APD.
The Fair Tax of Flying Alliance is comprised of a number of associations and companies, including the UK travel association ABTA, the British Air Transport Association and the Airport Operators Association. It revealed that last year the government received £125 million in APD taxes from businesses using the airports around London. It said that business travellers leaving these airports had contributed a total of more than £58 million, while another £73 million had come from overseas passengers flying from the south east.
Bata chief executive Simon Buck fumed: “It beggars belief that the government can hit business in London with a tax of this magnitude. Businesses here in the capital are being dragged down by this stealth tax on wealth generators.”
“If London’s businesses are to play their part in rebalancing our economy and attracting foreign investment, we must be cost competitive with our European rivals which, in most cases, impose little or no equivalent tax on flying.”
Abta boss Mark Tanzer added: “Simply put, APD makes us uncompetitive with other capitals in Europe and is a tax on jobs that rely on flying for their business.”