The boss of International Airlines Group is calling on the government to scrap Air Passenger Duty in the light of Scottish plans to halve the tax once the power is devolved to Edinburgh.
His demand also comes as proposals to devolve the aviation duty to Wales are being drawn up.
Chief executive of the British Airways parent company, Willie Walsh, urged chancellor George Osborne to act to boost inbound tourism.
Osborne should cut APD, “radically reform” the visa system for Chinese visitors and protect funding for VisitBritain despite the prospect of cuts elsewhere, said Walsh.
He made the pleas in his submission to the Comprehensive Spending Review, in which the Treasury has asked departments to find £20 billion in savings over the next four years.
APD is “the highest tax of its kind anywhere in the world and acts as a major brake on tourism to the UK and inward investment”, Walsh said.
The tax costs each traveller between £13 and £142 depending on the distance travelled and ticket class, and there are worries that English airports will suffer from more passengers choosing to fly from Scotland and Wales if they cut APD.
Walsh warned the government that many voters might consider devolution of the tax as creating an inherent unfairness, the Telegraph reported.
He called on APD to be abolished altogether, arguing that this would boost the overall economy.
Walsh also urged the chancellor to bring the country’s visa system for Chinese visitors into line with the US, which announced last year that it would grant 10-year visas to help boost lucrative tourism.
A 10-year visa to the US costs around £100. The UK equivalent for Chinese nationals is about £800.
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