Imposing an airline tax means the UK is “cutting off its nose to spite its face,” according to the boss of Virgin Atlantic.
Chief executive Craig Kreeger slammed Air Passenger Duty as being “bad for business” while marking the airline’s 20th year of flying from Manchester.
“This is a country which, through the government’s actions, has failed to recognise how travel supports business, leisure and the economy in this country,” he said.
“By creating a higher tax regime, it’s a disincentive for people to come here. We are cutting off our face in a way that independent studies have shown is negative to the economy. I continue to be disappointed about Air Passenger Duty,” he told the Manchester Evening News.
Referring to the tax break for under-16s introduced last April, plus lower rates for long-haul flights, he said they were “modest tweaks”.
Kreeger added: “These are moves in the correct direction – but relatively small ones.”
He described Brexit as “disappointing,” saying it would have a “short-term” negative impact on the economy, but that airlines would “get on and find opportunities”.
The airline sees Manchester as a hub with “continuing opportunity for growth”.
Virgin starts flights to San Francisco, Boston and New York in 2017 in addition to existing routes from Manchester to Orlando, Barbados and Las Vegas, with Atlanta introduced last year.
Kreeger said transport links to the airport were key to make the most of the passengers living within two hours of the hub.
He added: “Manchester is part of a much larger catchment area than just the city and the idea of a Northern Powerhouse centres around creating connecting capabilities.”
Business people from the tech community would take advantage of the Boston and San Francisco flights, he said.
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