Leading travel organisations today welcomed yesterday’s announcement by the Treasury that the Autumn Statement will take place on 29 November, as an opportunity to focus the industry’s efforts to challenge the Government’s planned rise in Air Passenger Duty (APD).
The Chancellor, George Osborne MP, is widely expected to use the statement to confirm a double-inflation APD rise ahead of the 2012 Budget and detail how APD will be reformed following a consultation earlier this year. Leading voices in the travel industry today responded, saying the sector has twelve weeks to make its opposition heard ‘loud and clear’.
In March this year leading names in the UK travel and tourism industry united for the first time behind a campaign calling for a ‘Fair Tax on Flying’ from the UK Government. The campaign has been calling on the Government to halt any further rises in aviation tax, with revenue from Air Passenger Duty (APD) having increased by 2600% since it was first introduced in 1994. The Fair on Flying Campaign has also called for reform in the way the tax is structured addressing concerns about issues ranging from the way Premium Economy seats are taxed to how destination taxation bands are drawn up. It is expected that the Treasury will announce the new revised APD regime in the Autumn Statement.
Luke Pollard, Head of Public Affairs ABTA - The Travel Association said: “This year £2.2 billion of holidaymakers’ and business travellers’ money will pour into the Treasury’s coffers. The Government has stated that it intends to raise the tax by a further £1.4 billion in just four years’ time. With just twelve weeks to go before the Chancellor makes up his mind about future APD rises, the industry must seize this opportunity to make our voice loud and clear: a double-inflation APD rise will damage the economy and we have to fight it together.”
Simon Buck, Chief Executive of the British Air Transport Association said: “I know all members of the Fair Tax on Flying campaign will be redoubling their efforts and undertaking more activity over the coming weeks as we approach the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement in late November. At a time when the UK economic recovery is faltering, the Government should be seeking ways to boost the UK travel industry rather than making air travel prohibitively expensive through the imposition of the highest taxes on flying in the world.”
Darren Caplan, Chief Executive, Airport Operators Association said: “We urge the Chancellor to take this opportunity to give an early indication the Treasury will reduce Air Passenger Duty (APD) when aviation joins the EU Emissions Trading Scheme next January, to prevent the overall cost on passengers going up. We would also like the Chancellor to give a boost to business travellers, holidaymakers and people visiting friends and relatives around the world, by abandoning the planned double inflation APD increase in next March’s Budget.
Over the coming months the Airport Operators Association will be working with the ‘Fair Tax on Flying’ campaign to persuade the Chancellor to drop the proposed eye-wateringly high APD increases which threaten both a struggling aviation sector and its ability to help growth in UK plc. We hope that the Chancellor will take note of the campaign”
The Fair Tax on Flying Alliance:
The Fair Tax on Flying alliance consists of over 30 leading travel organisations including airlines, airports, trade associations and destinations. The campaign has created a dedicated Facebook page www.facebook.com/afairtaxonflying to raise awareness of the tax and allow consumers to register their views.
The alliance have set five tests that they are asking the Government to take into account as they review the overall structure or level of aviation tax:
1. Will any revision increase the overall amount travellers pay to fly to and from the UK?
2. Will any change be designed to be offset by the income from the UK’s inclusion in the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS)?
3. Will a new approach remove the unfairness that travellers buying a premium economy ticket for a few extra inches of legroom are classed the same as first class travellers and pay double the rate of tax?
4. Will any new policy address concerns that defining bands by national capital cities creates unhelpful exceptions that are unfair to passengers and damage destinations?
5. Has the policy’s impact on destinations, trade and tourism been adequately understood and considered?
The Autumn Statement:
The Chancellor uses his Autumn Statement to give an update on the state of the economy, as well as to respond to the latest analysis from the independent Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR). The Autumn Statement replaced the pre-Budget report, which under the previous government was seen as a mini-Budget, in which draft tax and spending decisions were outlined.