A plea for urgent reform of Air Passenger Duty has been made to chancellor George Osborne by the head of Flybe.
The chief executive of the regional airline described the tax as a “critical issue which can no longer await resolution now that the country has voted to leave the EU”.
In a letter to Osborne, he called for APD to be cut by 50% at regional airports – in line with what is being planned in Scotland – funded through a rise at the large, slot-constrained airports in London such as Heathrow and Gatwick.
In the absence of outright abolition, “a decrease in the duty at regional airports would help address the disproportionate impact on the UK regions of the current APD regime whereby a typical domestic passenger can be charged up to 19 times the tax per mile of a passenger on a long haul flight,” Hammad said.
“This iniquity is doubled when a return international passenger suffers this charge just once, but a domestic traveller is taxed twice as APD is a UK departure tax.
“The corresponding increase on passengers using Heathrow and Gatwick would be akin to a congestion charge, a concept already well established in our economy as best shown by the London road congestion charge.”
He claimed that the benefits of Flybe’s proposed APD reform would be manifold.
“First, it would provide a more level playing field between regional and international travellers and assist the development of regional airports and economies, particularly in light of the uncertainty after the referendum vote to leave the EU,” Hammad said.
“It would also remove potential market distortions and risks of unfairness on passengers in England from APD devolution and reduction in Scotland and Wales.
“Finally, it would provide an economic incentive for the immediate use of spare runway capacity available today at regional airports neighbouring London such as Birmingham airport, given new runway capacity at either Heathrow or Gatwick could take more than a decade to come on stream if it is ever approved.”
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