Chancellor Philip Hammond made no changes to of Air Passenger Duty (APD) in today’s Autumn Statement, disappointing industry hopes of a cut.
Airline lobby group Airlines for Europe (A4E) had even demanded APD’s abolition ahead of the Chancellor’s statement. But the Chancellor made no mention of APD and documents released by the Treasury to accompany Hammond’s statement do not refer to the duty.
The Airport Operators Association (AOA) expressed disappointment, as did the Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK), which represents 70 airlines.
AOA chief executive Darren Caplan said: “The Chancellor has failed to seize the opportunity to cut APD and demonstrate the UK is open for business.
“Halving APD would have sent out a signal internationally and encouraged airlines to schedule more routes to the UK and fly more frequently on existing routes, boosting the UK’s connectivity.”
Caplan said: “The AOA will continue to make the case that APD is unfair on families and a tax on the UK’s global competitiveness and connectivity.
“APD is one of the highest air taxes in the world and, with our nearest neighbours charging nothing or less than half of what the UK levies, it harms our global competitiveness.”
Dale Keller, chief executive of BAR UK, agreed saying: “The airline community remains committed to its campaign to reduce APD and ultimately abolish it.
“We believe the government is ignoring a key tool in its efforts to boost global competitiveness and to send a positive message that the UK is open for business as we head towards a post-Brexit future that could catapult the UK out of the European common aviation area.”
Keller said: “Another EU country has just acted with Austria announcing it will cut local aviation taxes 50% by January 2018, making the UK look increasingly isolated.”
Caplan added: “We note the Government has published a summary of responses to its consultation on how to support regional airports in England from the potential effects of APD devolution but has not announced its preferred course of action.
“A cut in APD anywhere in the UK should be matched immediately by a cut everywhere, so no parts of the country are disadvantaged. We call on the Treasury to publish a plan that sets out how and when this can be delivered.”
Cheapflights managing director Andrew Shelton said: “The government ignored recommendations from the travel industry and parliament to tackle APD, meaning UK travellers will continue to lose out.
“By kicking the issue into the long grass, saying it will be dealt with when the UK leaves the EU, the government has paved for way for a much more complex travel tax system that can only bring confusion and uncertainty.
“Had calls for APD to be halved been heeded, a family could have saved up to £328.50 annually – these savings have now been lost.”
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