03 Jun

Air Passenger Duty Reform – gathering international support

ABTA is calling Members, representatives of the travel industry, holidaymakers and business travellers to write to their MPs to express concern that the Government will drastically increase taxes on long haul flights later this year.

Following pressure from ABTA, the new Government has already outlined plans to reform Air Passenger Duty [APD] and to replace it with a per-plane duty [PPD]. ABTA has cautiously welcomed this announcement, but has warned against aggressive and punitive rates of tax which will price average travellers out of foreign holidays, endanger jobs and damage the UK’s position as a global aviation hub. 

Steep rises will also dramatically affect the cost of flying to destinations such as the Caribbean and South Africa, potentially putting visiting friends and family out of reach and disproportionately affecting some of the poorest countries in the world, whose economies are heavily reliant on tourism.

ABTA’s contact with destination governments from around the world, particularly destinations that fall within the existing Band C, has found that international concern from governments such as Egypt, Kenya, and the Caribbean is mounting as previously agreed hikes mean that long haul travel will bear the brunt of considerable increases in November this year.

ABTA is concerned that APD’s misplaced banding arrangements are punishing developing economies that receive UK visitors. ABTA also believes that APD should be scrapped when the emissions trading scheme comes into force in 2012.

Currently, each economy class traveller to the Caribbean pays the UK Government £50. From 1 November, this is due to rise to £75, representing an increase of over 185% in APD since it was first implemented. This means a family of four going over to visit friends and relatives will pay £300 just on tax come November. For those who pay for a little extra legroom in premium economy, these rates double.

ABTA’s Head of Public Affairs, Luke Pollard, said: “passengers attending next month’s World Cup in South Africa will be paying over 50% of the cost of an average match ticket simply to fly there – and that is why we will be talking to this new government to ensure the per plane duty is banded fairly, and priced reasonably”.

Mark Tanzer ABTA Chief Executive said: “A rise in aviation tax levels will put pressure on jobs and damage local economies reliant on tourist expenditure both here and abroad at a time when as an industry, we are already suffering. A fairer banding system which is more closely aligned with distance travelled will be absolutely necessary to ensure that there is no further financial burden on those who can least afford it. We’ll be pressing for PPD to be fully consulted upon so that the poorest nations and travellers are not hit the hardest.”