'Tourism tax' bad for the North East

AIRPORT bosses say they will continue to fight against "damaging" air taxes that could now add nearly £370 to the cost of a family holiday.

Graeme Mason, planning and corporate affairs director at Newcastle International Airport
Graeme Mason, planning and corporate affairs director at Newcastle International Airport

AIRPORT bosses say they will continue to fight against "damaging" air taxes that could now add nearly £370 to the cost of a family holiday.

Passengers woke up on Sunday to an unwelcome 8% rise in the level of Air Passenger Duty (APD) – double the rate of inflation – which the British Air Transport Association claimed amounts to a “tax on tourism”.

Graeme Mason, planning and corporate affairs director at Newcastle International Airport, said the levy – which The Journal’s Tax Too Far campaign has campaigned against since 2009 – was disadvantaging the region at a time when the North East economy needed all the help it could get.

“APD in the UK was already at an unacceptably high level even before the double inflation rise now in place from April 1,” Mr Mason said.

“This damaging tax sets the UK apart from the countries we are competing with and puts us at a serious disadvantage. It is particularly damaging to regional air services. For this reason, we propose the Government looks again at the structure of APD.

“This issue is so important that we will continue making the case for reform.”

The increase in APD means a family of four flying to Florida would have to pay a total of £260 in APD.

Meanwhile, a family of four taking a holiday in Australia will have to fork out a total of £368.

As the Treasury is intending to continue increasing APD up until 2016, air passengers are facing further increases that could push the cost for a family heading down under towards £500.

EasyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary, and Virgin Atlantic chief executive Steve Ridgway joined Willie Walsh, boss of British Airways’ parent company IAG, in condemning the latest rise.

In a joint statement, the airline bosses said the public should not be fooled by the tax and the damage it does to them, to jobs and to the wider economy.

“We urge George Osborne to make APD the first tax to be examined under the Treasury’s new review of the wider impacts of taxation on the economy and to halt the proposed rise until this review is complete,” they said.

BATA chief executive Simon Buck said it “beggars belief” that APD was rising yet again and by such a vast amount.

“It has become a tax on tourism, making it increasingly difficult for ordinary families to afford their annual summer getaway. Here in Britain we already pay the highest aviation duty of any country in Europe.

“The Government must end its obsession with raising ever-increasing sums from air passengers, which is pricing ordinary families out of the skies.”

A Treasury spokesperson said: “The Government took action by freezing Air Passenger Duty last year and we’ve always been clear that APD would go up this April.

“The majority of passengers will only pay an extra £1 as a result of the rise. As announced at the Autumn Statement, we are also extending APD to private business jets for the first time.

“It is also worth noting that unlike some other European countries, the UK does not levy VAT on domestic flights and aviation fuel is not taxed.

“The aviation industry will also benefit from the record low corporation tax that takes effect from today.”

 
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