UK government asked to abolish air tax

The UK Government has been urged to abolish tax on flights from Britain, in line with the move by Ireland, according to a report by The Telegraph.

Ireland, which had already cut air tax to just €3 per passenger per flight, said earlier this week that it will scrap the tax on flights completely from April 2014.

Commenting that Britain has the highest rate of air tax in the world, Steve Hoy, chief commercial officer at Bmi regional, urged the UK government to adopt a similar policy.

‘This recent tax break highlights that the Irish constituency has recognised the negative impact that the duty has on core industry, tourism and airlines,’ Hoy said, adding: ‘We’re disappointed that UK air travel continues to be subjected to such a considerable levy and urge the UK government to follow suit.’

Following the latest rise in Air Passenger Duty (APD) in April 2013, the standard rate (for non-economy class) of APD for Band A (for destinations less than 2,000 miles from London) is £26. The rate for Band D (more than 6,000 miles) is £188, rising to £194 from April 1 2014. The APD has been cited as the reason for pricing ordinary families out of overseas holidays, discouraging airlines from opening new routes and forcing many to be withdrawn, and causing inbound tourists, who pay the tax on their flight home, to go elsewhere.

A report by C & IT Magazine said that nearly 250 UK business leaders have also signed a petition telling the Chancellor of the Exchequer that Air Passenger Duty (APD) was a ‘significant additional burden’ for businesses.

The petition, organised by the campaign ‘A Fair Tax on Flying’, said that supporters were calling on ‘the Government to undertake urgent action to reduce the world’s highest air passenger tax’. ‘Air travel is vital to the success of our business because it helps us to connect to new markets and reach new customers,’ it said.

Commenting on the situation, an HM Treasury spokesperson said: ‘The Government has frozen APD in real terms since 2010, and in the last year, APD has not changed at all for the majority of flights. Passenger numbers are going up, and airlines do not have to pass on the cost of APD to passengers. However it is important that the aviation sector plays a part in helping to bring down the deficit.

‘International aviation is generally not subject to tax on fuel, and in contrast to many other countries, there is no VAT charged on flights in the UK.’

Meanwhile, announcing the decision to abolish the tax, Irish finance minister Michael Noonan reportedly said that he expected airlines to respond by launching new routes and increasing the frequency of other services.

Brits give thumbs down to Air Passenger Duty

British travellers are not impressed by the UK government’s increases to Air Passenger Duty (APD), according to the results of a recent survey.

The 2013 Flights Survey, which was carried out by TripAdvisor, a travel website that assists its customers in gathering travel information, revealed that 77 percent of its 1,100 respondents felt that APD should be scrapped. The duty is scheduled to suffer a further increase in April this year, and for a proportion of those surveyed the rise will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, with 27 percent of them saying that the cost of APD will affect their travel plans during the coming year.

The Flights Survey also questioned respondents on their attitudes towards forthcoming changes to security allowances in carry-on luggage that were originally introduced back in 2006. This will see the restriction on carrying more than 100 ml of a liquid in hand luggage revoked in April, thanks to all EU airports now having equipment available that can analyse such liquids. This advance in security technology is probably partly responsible for such a small proportion of travellers registering any concern for the change, with just 17 percent of those questioned saying that they would feel less safe when the restriction is lifted.

Emma Shaw, a TripAdvisor spokesperson, commented on the findings, ‘Flights make up a significant part of the cost of a trip and the results of this research reveal that the ever increasing cost of APD is becoming a real concern for British travellers.

And, while the liquid ban was originally implemented for traveller safety, it seems that the majority of Brits won’t feel any less safe when the restriction is lifted later this year.’

 

Travellers Told ‘Complain to Your MP About Rise In Air Passenger Duty’

An alliance of more than 30 airlines and tour operators is encouraging travellers to complain to their MP’s about increases in Air Passenger Duty.

The alliance, calling itself ‘A Fair Tax on Flying,’ is also intending to create a list of at least 100,000 signatures of travellers that are disgruntled by the tax increases, which have seen APD rise by 360 percent in the last 7 years. Depending on distances travelled, APD can now add as much as £368 to the flight cost for a family of four, which the alliance say can deter British holidaymakers from travelling abroad and foreign visitors from visiting the UK. Taxes for premium seat passengers can double.

The alliance claims that, ‘Only five European countries tax passengers when they fly overseas and UK rates are twice the level of the next most expensive tax (which is in Germany). A Fair Tax on Flying campaign has calculated that the Treasury collected more than twice as much in passenger taxes in 2011 than the all other European countries that levy a tax combined.’

By visiting www.afairtaxonflying.org and registering their personal details, complainants can have a letter sent in their name to their local MP. It is claimed that in excess of 1,000 people supported the campaign in its first day. The letter reads, ‘Many other European countries, including Holland, Denmark and Belgium, have scrapped their APD because of the impact it was having on families and the wider economy. I ask that you write to the Chancellor to request that the Treasury undertakes research to determine the impact of APD on UK holidaymakers, employment and economic growth.’

The alliance, which includes British Airways, TUI Travel, the British Airline Pilot’s Association and many more major names in the travel industry, has launched a Facebook page to support the campaign at www.Facebook.com/afairtaxonflying.