EasyJet boss Carolyn McCall said its decision to commission research on the damaging impact of APD was borne out of frustration about government aviation policy.
She said she was concerned current policies work against its attempts to keep flying both affordable, to support the UK economy, and reduce flying’s impact on the environment.
Speaking to Travel Weekly at the lowcost carrier’s first parliamentary reception for MPs and peers on Wednesday night the airline’s chief executive said government words supporting the sector were often not backed up by actions.
The event took place on the day easyJet launched its campaign against APD backed by independent research by Frontier Economics and repeated calls for the tax to be reformed to a per plane duty that would work in favour of more efficient airlines with a smaller environmental footprint.
McCall said: “We commissioned it [the report] out of frustration. We have been concerned about aviation policy and we could not think of any other way to get the data, the evidence.
“There is a misperception that we as an industry are doing really very well and therefore somehow we can just keep on taking the hit on fuel, take the hit on APD and somehow it is going to be alright. But what that completely ignores is the passenger and the environment.”
McCall said a healthy growing aviation sector was good for the UK economy and one of easyJet’s key aims was to keep flying affordable so ordinary people can still go on their annual holiday, something acknowledged by transport minister Theresa Villiers at the reception.
“We have never held an event like this before, there was a huge turnout which shows how easyJet is seen; it’s a sizeable business and it’s important to the UK economy plus there are the wider social implications in terms of connectivity,” said McCall.
“This gave us the opportunity to talk about two things, firstly aviation policy which is unclear. We really need a clear aviation policy because it’s such an important part of the future of Britain. Secondly it was a great opportunity to talk about taxation and there was huge cross party support for our view.”
Earlier, when McCall told guests she did not want to see APD rise, there was audible support in the room from MPs and peers. Travel Weekly was told as well as Conservative MP’s her views were also supported by Lib Dems and Labour politicians who feel APD is an attack on ordinary voters.
Although easyJet remains outside of the travel industry’s Fair Tax on Flying coalition it does support its broad aims and it is technically represented within the coalition through its membership of the British Air Transport Association although its calls for a per plane tax are opposed by other airlines.
However, Luke Pollard head of public affairs at Abta, which is coordinating the coalition, said: “Taxes going up is damaging the UK economy and that’s exactly the message from the Fair Tax on Flying alliance.
“Taxes are too high and they are only going to go up in the next three years – an extra £1.2billion is going to go on air travel. To have a chief executive of such a preeminent company as easyJet to make the point about APD in public to a minister is just what the industry needs. We need more industry players to say the same thing.
“What we need to do in a room full of parliamentarians is we need to give them the ammunition to make sure that they can support the industry. The people in this room are clearly supportive of lowering APD, what we need to do is give them the facts and figures to allow them to do so.”
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