Abta takes APD campaign to Belfast

Abta takes APD campaign to Belfast

An Abta delegation is visiting Northern Ireland this week to highlight its opposition to rises in APD claiming the region risks losing international routes.

A government review on reform of the tax ends this week with the industry response led by Abta, which has gathered an industry alliance together to oppose further rises.

The Fair Tax on Flying  alliance has generated over 1,500 ‘signatures’ on a Facebook campaign page.

The campaign has branded the current APD structure ‘illogical’ and damaging to the UK’s aspirations for growth in its travel and tourism industry.

Abta has called on the government to rethink the overall level and structure of aviation tax which is the highest in the world and set to increase again by double the rate of inflation next April. 

The government deferred an expected rise in the March budget saying it did not want to hit holidaymakers in the pocket, but it does expect to collect more APD in the future.

APD is said to be the second easiest tax to collect and has been targeted by the coalition government as it strives to put the country’s economy in order.

Under the current structure, a family of four flying from the UK to Florida pay £240 while if they fly to Australia they pay £340. Rates double for customers flying in business class.

The Abta visit to Northern Ireland will highlight how travellers can easily avoid the UK’s APD by taking flights from the Republic that currently charges €3 per passenger.

Abta said figures show air passenger numbers from Belfast have seen zero growth in the first four months of 2011 while Dublin has seen average growth of 26%

The association also pointed out Denmark, Sweden, Malta and the Netherlands have all axed their versions of aviation tax due to negative economic impacts on their economies.

The Fair Tax on Flying campaign is concerned about a ‘double tax’ on aviation when European Emissions Trading comes in in 2012 and is demanding the government offsets revenue raised from that against aviation tax income.

Mark Tanzer, Abta chief executive, said: “It is vital that the government understands the damaging impact that APD is having on the tourism industry in the UK. 

“We already pay the highest levels of aviation tax in the world, and if the government goes ahead with its double-inflationary increase and levies an ETS tax on top of this in 2012, we will see another eye-watering increase in the tax burden on the industry and on holidaymakers and business travellers flying in and out of the UK.

“The industry is willing to pay its way, but this clearly puts us at a competitive disadvantage when compared with our European neighbours and punishes the travelling public unfairly.”

Uel Hoey, business development director, Belfast International Airport, said: “We need to nurture key air routes for investment and tourism directly into Northern Ireland, in order that the NI market is easily accessible for potential investors and tourists.

“That is why we must assume control at a local executive level over our Air Transport strategy via the ongoing UK Air Passenger Duty Consultation and why we are encouraging all those bodies involved in the promotion of investment and tourism within Northern Ireland to make the voice of NI plc heard on this crucial issue.”

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