The trade has described today’s Budget as a “kick in the teeth” over Air Passenger Duty.
ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer said Chancellor Alistair Darling’s failure to mention the proposed APD changes mooted in last year’s Pre-budget report was being taken as a sign that it is pressing ahead with the plan.
Nor has Darling replied to the letter sent by Tanzer last month to the Treasury addressing the industry’s concerns over a possible rise in APD.
The plan will see a four band system on Air Passenger Duty introduced in November 2009 before increasing again in November 2010 with disproportionate increases being introduced on destinations including the Caribbean, Egypt and Kenya.
By 2010 a family of four travelling in premium economy will be forced to pay as much as £600 in APD as opposed to the £140 currently billed.
Tanzer added: “We are very disappointed that the government has chosen to ignore the travel industry and go ahead with its plans to drastically raise APD.
“This unfair tax already costs air travellers from the UK £2 billion and covers its environmental costs. “This holiday tax represents a heavy and growing burden on families at a time when they are being forced to reconsider whether they can afford to take a well-earned break.
“As one of the few successful sectors in the UK economy, the government has targeted the travel industry to plunder, without regard to the damaging impact to jobs.
“We will continue to challenge the increases, and its anomalies.”
Advantage Travel Centres chief executive John McEwan added: “The travel industry has been united in its opposition to these ridiculously ill thought out APD changes since they were announced in his pre-Budget Report last year, but Darling has chosen to ignore the experts and press on regardless.
“This is a kick in the teeth for the UK’s tourism industry that will have an inevitable impact on tourism jobs at home and abroad.
“The Budget was the ideal opportunity to make APD more equitable and base tax rates on aircraft type and actually CO2 emissions.
“Instead, the Chancellor is intent on hitting hard-pressed holidaymakers.”
Britaly Travel director and ABTA board member Daniel Broccoli agreed the Budget had failed the industry as APD still looks set to change following the Budget.
He added: “Once again the travel industry is easy pickings. The government does not think about the number of jobs which rely on this industry. We will be continuing and stepping up our lobbying on this.”
The Co-operative Travel managing director Mike Greenacre also criticised the moves on APD, adding it could lead to a loss of UK jobs if the Caribbean suffers majorly under the changes.
He added: “”It is scandalous that APD has gone from zero to its existing level in such a short period of time.
“Whilst we accept that the industry has to pay its share of tax on fuel, the impact of this draconian increase could be catastrophic.
“If this really is a ‘green’ tax, surely it is logical that it pays some resemblance to the actual impact the flight has on the environment?
“Therefore, we propose that passengers are charged according to their carbon footprint.”
Thomson Holidays managing director Dermot Blastland said: “We find it outrageous that despite clear briefings explaining why this tax is unfair and unjust, the Government continues to carry on regardless.
“Many holidaymakers will not now be able to afford a few inches of extra legroom on their holiday flight.”
Flybe chief commercial officer Mike Rutter said: “As a former transport minister, Mr. Darling knows that aviation will play its part in dragging the country out of recession.
“The government’s own figures show that aviation already pays its own way.”
Meanwhile the Forum of Private Business chief executive Phil Orford criticised the budget for failing to help small businesses survive the continued economic turmoil.
He said: “The Chancellor has missed a vital opportunity to produce a Budget for business survival and economic growth.
“We called for a real and sustained support strategy, acting as a catalyst for broader economic recovery, but instead we got a Budget that appears to be focused on the next general election.
“Although the long-term unemployed will benefit from investment in job creation and training from 2010, nothing has been done to help businesses retain their existing skilled workforce, which continues to be decimated as a result of the recession.”
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Homepage image: Jamie Wiseman / Daily Mail / Rex Features
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