Virgin Atlantic has decided to keep its commitment to providing flights for Caribbean holidays, even though the price of Air Passenger Duty (APD) taxes remains high.
This is fortunate for both the Caribbean islands and the British holidaymakers who want to visit them because another British flag carrier, BA, have responded to high APD in completely the opposite way. British Airways have decided to reduce their services to the Caribbean.
Picking up the slack, Virgin Atlantic will offer more flights to Tobago, Barbados, Cuba and Grenada from this winter season onwards. In addition, if you’re looking at taking one of these Caribbean flights, you can look forward to the offer of additional premium economy seats thanks to a refitting of that particular part of Virgin Atlantic’s fleet.
“We are proud of the business and revenue that is brought to the Caribbean through our presence and we are committed to extending that,” said Virgin Atlantic director of commercial and revenue planning, Edmund Rose, adding that the Caribbean was: “tremendously important to Virgin Atlantic.”
High APD is something that the various Caribbean tourism boards have consistently highlighted as falling unfairly on the Caribbean islands. Passengers pay higher APD to take flights there than passengers headed to destinations that are further away. The reason for this is a somewhat arbitrary APD zoning system that Caribbean officials have been trying to have changed during many months of intense discussion with the British Government.
David Scowsill, the president of the World Travel and Tourism Council said: “The distance-based system is discriminatory to the Caribbean and the Caribbean people living in the UK. The Caribbean is closer to the UK than the US West Coast yet it is in a higher band.”
For now, high APD remains a problem. However, Virgin Atlantic are helping the situation by keeping a wide variety of cheap flights to the Caribbean on offer.