Industry lobby group A Fair Tax on Flying has repeated an appeal for government action to tackle Air Passenger Duty after Flybe pilots took a pay cut to avoid redundancies blamed on the “iniquitous” tax.
The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) confirmed earlier in the month that the regional carrier threatened to make 50 pilots compulsorily redundant.
But almost three quarters of pilot members of the union at the airline in voted to accept a pay cut of 5% to avoid job losses.
Airport Operators Association chief executive Darren Caplan, speaking on behalf of A Fair Tax on Flying, said: “The news that Flybe pilots are facing a 5% pay cut due to the high level of APD in the UK is an absolute travesty which could be avoided.
“We have passengers saying that they would be prepared to fly to other low or no APD-levying countries to escape punitive levels of tax; we have airlines saying that they are flying less or not at all to the UK because of these eye-wateringly high charges; and we now have pilots having to take pay cuts because of this iniquitous levy.
“This really has to stop. The Treasury now needs to both conduct an investigation into the damage APD is doing to the UK’s domestic and international connectivity and to the UK economy, and significantly cut APD to help stimulate job creation and growth.”
Balpa general secretary Jim McAuslan said: “These pilots have each made a personal financial sacrifice to help the company, and, more importantly, to help each other.
“Flybe is facing strong headwinds and needs to make cost savings; we understand that and our own due diligence backed that approach. I am grateful to Flybe for working with us to conclude this deal.
“Flybe’s position as primarily a domestic operator means it is hit with a double whammy of the unfair APD. Passengers on domestic flights have to pay the tax on both the outward and return flights, rather than just as a departure tax for international passengers.
“So while Flybe pilots have made a personal sacrifice to assist the company, and while Flybe works to forge a way forward, it is disappointing that the government has refused to help at all by reducing the punitive APD levels. We, once again, look to the Treasury to help British aviation, and the thousands of jobs in this industry.
“Indeed, a recent report by PwC demonstrated that scrapping APD altogether would help create 60,000 jobs in the UK. It would certainly help the thousands of people who rely on a successful Flybe for their livelihoods.”
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