As we approach next month’s budget ABTA is calling on the public to contact their MPs to protest about the Government’s intention to increase the flying poll tax, Air Passenger Duty, on 1 November 2010 following significant rises last year. The amount of tax paid depends on the length of flight and will have a much greater effect on long haul travellers. As a result these increases will hit many families particularly hard as they plan trips to visit friends and relatives in Africa, Asia, North America and Caribbean, South America and Australasia.
A recent poll found 60% of those in the lowest social bands and two thirds of ethnic minorities felt that the APD rises would have an impact on how often they travelled to see their family overseas. The same groups were equally concerned that their families would be less able to come and visit them in the UK.
Examples of the amounts involved include, a family of four travelling to the USA, Nigeria or Pakistan paying the Government £240 in tax and £300 for travel to the Caribbean or India. For travel to South America or Australia this figure rises to £340, almost £100 per passenger. Before 1 November 2009 APD for these destinations was only £40 per passenger.
Last year the Dutch Government ditched a similar tax on the grounds that the damage it caused their economy vastly outweighed the money going into Government coffers.
The British Government has backtracked on earlier claims that APD is a green tax and the estimated £2.8 billion pounds raised each year goes directly into the Treasury’s coffers and is not used to benefit the environment. UK airlines will be joining the European Union’s Emission Trading Scheme in 2012 which is a much fairer and more efficient way of addressing environmental concerns and should replace Air Passenger Duty.
Mark Tanzer ABTA Chief Executive said “Air Passenger Duty is a particularly cruel tax as it prevents many families already suffering the effects of the recession from visiting their friends and relatives overseas. Raising this tax even higher will mean that many more will miss out on the chance to meet up with loved ones. The planned increase on 1 November is unjustifiable and nothing more than yet another stealth tax on those that can least afford it”
The Government estimates that APD will discourage up to 1.4 million people from flying to and from the UK. ABTA and other concerned organisations are supporting an e-petition calling on the Government to rethink these increases which can be accessed at www.abta.com.