Airport operators believe the Treasury can be persuaded to drop plans to raise air passenger duty (APD) next year if the industry makes enough noise.
Airport Operators Association (AOA) chief executive Darren Caplan said: “We do not think APD is set in stone. We can thwart a double-inflation increase next year. We got a freeze this year when, before the Budget, APD was definitely going up.”
But Caplan told an aviation conference in London last week: “We recognise we have a job on our hands with the government.” The AOA joined airline representative bodies BAR-UK and BATA last week in launching a campaign targeting air passengers - ‘Hands off our holiday, Mr Taxman’.
About 150 staff at nine airports, including Gatwick and Luton, handed out 30,000 leaflets to passengers last Monday.
Caplan implied criticism of those in the industry who have suggested alternative ways for the Treasury to raise revenue through APD. He said: “We are not looking to deal with the government. We are not talking about a per-plane tax or devolved APD or regional airports or banding. The AOA argues ‘scrap APD’. We know it is costing us flights. We have to make some noise.”
Chancellor George Osborne froze APD in the Budget in March in face of determined lobbying by the industry and following the launch of the Fair Tax on Flying coalition headed by Abta. But the Chancellor plans a substantial rise in APD next April to compensate, taking account of inflation both this year and next.
Caplan said: “We got a freeze, but it was smoke and mirrors because in the small print the Treasury said we would get a double increase in APD next year, on top of the cost of airlines joining the European emissions trading scheme from January.”
The AOA chief executive was speaking at a Waterfront conference on ‘Preparing for a new direction in UK aviation’.
The ‘Hands off our holiday’ campaign is backed by the AOA, Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR-UK) and British Air Transport Association (BATA). It is urging people to email their MP via the website handsoffourholiday.com.
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