By Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association
Over 250 UK chief executives, managing directors, board members and business owners in the UK have added their names to a business petition, launched just three months ago, supporting A Fair Tax on Flying's campaign.
As part of its mission the campaign is highlighting the negative economic impact of Air Passenger Duty (APD) on companies and organisations throughout the UK.
Senior representatives of hundreds of businesses, business associations and chambers of commerce have added their names to the petition calling for the government to undertake urgent action to reduce the world’s highest air passenger tax.
Looking at the list of supporters who have added their names to the petition, it’s evident that APD is not just an issue for the travel and tourism industry. It is having an impact on all types of businesses across the UK, large and small.
From export firms to technology specialists, from restaurants to legal firms, from heavy machinery suppliers to investment firms, all are deeply concerned with the harm APD is doing to their businesses.
This high-level and diverse support from the UK’s business community is the clearest indication yet that the UK’s high rates of APD are having a damaging impact on growth and commerce.
The businesses who have lent their support to A Fair Tax on Flying's campaign are clearly concerned by the depressingly predictable annual increases in APD and frustrated by the government’s continued inaction on this issue.
The government has consistently refused to commission research to assess what impact this tax is having - perhaps because they are fearful that the findings would see an easy revenue source dry up.
The business leaders add to an ever-increasing voice of concern about the current levels of APD. Last year 200,000 British consumers wrote to their MPs to ask for an independent review of the economic impacts of APD.
The campaign has also gained the support of 112 cross-party MPs who are also putting pressure on the government to commission a review.
Campaigning against tax in a time of austerity and deficit cutting is always going to be a long-haul rather than a short-haul effort.
But, if we are going to be successful in persuading policymakers in the long term, we must continue increasing pressure, growing support and putting forward the economic case for a reduction in APD.
The campaign will present the signatories of the business petition to the Treasury. Together with all the other past and growing evidence of opposition to APD.
It should drive home the extent to which this tax is strangling the UK’s prospects and provide clear evidence that this is not just a case of the travel industry calling for a lower tax regime.
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