16 Sep

MPs: Increases in Aviation Tax May Stop Ordinary Families Flying

A strong majority of MPs say additional rises in UK aviation taxes risk stopping UK holiday-makers from flying in 2012, according to a new survey published today by ABTA - The Travel Association, as part of the Fair Tax on Flying campaign. It comes on the same day that 20 cross-party MPs and peers have also written to the Chancellor urging him to re-consider plans to hit air travellers in 2012 with unprecedented tax increases.

MPs’ Survey:
Three out of four MPs (75%) say the Government’s plans for increases in aviation tax (Air Passenger Duty) in 2012 may stop ordinary families from flying, according to the research by ABTA. The ComRes survey of more than 150 MPs is published ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn statement (29 November), when he is expected to confirm a double-inflation rise in Air Passenger Duty in 2012. Next year the UK also enters the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), further increasing the price of flying for passengers.

Key Findings:

  • Overall: 75% of MPs say ‘further rises in aviation taxation may price some people out of flying’.
  • Year-on-year: It’s a huge increase compared with last year (Oct 2010) when just 39% of MPs said the same.
  • Cross-Party: Conservative MPs are most worried: 83% agree that further increases ‘may price some people out of flying’ despite their own Government’s plans to raise the rate of APD in 2012. But MPs across all three parties expressed concern that planned aviation tax rises could price ordinary holiday-makers out of flying: with 67% of Labour MPs and 71% of Lib Dem MPs agreeing.
  • UK-wide: MPs in every part of the UK expressed concern for the cost of flying for their constituents, especially in London (78%) and the South of England (90%) where MPs felt particularly strongly that ‘further rises in aviation taxation may price some people out of flying’.

20 MPs and peers urge Chancellor to protect ‘ordinary families’

The findings come on the same day that parliamentarians have written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, urging him to protect ordinary families from aviation tax rises. In a strongly-worded letter to George Osborne, 20 MPs and peers “urge the Government to reconsider its plans to for a double-inflation rise in APD in 2012”. They say the effect of a double-inflation rise in APD “will be a significant increase in the cost of flying abroad next year, at a time when many ordinary families are already coming under severe financial pressure.”

Recent data shows that holiday-makers are cutting back on flying. Office of National Statistics figures already show a decline in air passenger numbers from the UK to European destinations: falling 3.4m from 45.9m in 2009 to 42.6m in 2010.

There is also widespread opposition to aviation tax from flyers. In a survey conducted by ComRes in February this year, almost two thirds of consumers (63%) said the current level of tax was too high.

A Gatwick spokesperson said:
"Gatwick is a family airport. Our passengers pay £400 million in APD every year, which goes straight into the treasury's coffers. It is difficult to understand why hardworking families, whose household bills are rising every month, should pay so much extra just to go on holiday. For many of them, its a luxury they save all year to afford".

Andrew Hawkins, Chairman, ComRes said:
“It is rare indeed for the tide of opinion among MPs to turn so massively within the space of just nine months. Concern about this issue among MPs of all parties, and particularly among Conservatives, is surely something that George Osborne will have to address ahead of the planned APD rises in April next year.”

Brian Donohoe MP, Chairman of an influential All Party Group on aviation, said that:
“With so many MPs concerned about the impact of rising aviation duty on ordinary families, the Treasury should change course and suspend its plans for the damaging tax rises. The Government should be trying to support ordinary families, not adding to the financial pressures many are facing.”

Luke Pollard, Head of Public Affairs at ABTA added:
“Tax on aviation – through Air Passenger Duty – in the UK has risen disproportionately over the past five years. The travel industry knows that George Osborne wants to balance the books, but to maximise the tax take it must be set at a level where people can still afford to fly - not at a level where people are priced out of the skies.

“It’s clear that people are already being priced out of flying because of aviation taxes. We’ve already seen air passenger numbers fall from the UK to European destinations. The Chancellor has the opportunity to arrest this trend and make sure flight taxes don’t put off the travelling public.”

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Background on Air Passenger Duty:

  • The UK pays the highest rates of aviation tax in Europe.
  • Many EU countries are phasing out their versions of air passenger duty to compensate for the revenue to be raised by the EU ETS.
  • Currently, a typical British family of four travelling in economy class pays £240 more than most European countries to fly to the USA and almost £50 more to fly to Europe.