The chairman of the International Air Transport Association has launched a stinging attack on the UK’s new government, accusing it of being “not very aviation-friendly’.
Antony Tyler, who is also Cathay Pacific’s chief executive, singled out the new Tory-Lib Dem government’s decision not to build a third runway at Heathrow and its determination to switch from Air Passenger Duty (APD) to a per-plane tax.
He said the change in APD would “favour short-haul over long-haul” carriers and compared British aviation policy with that of Asian countries and China in particular where there was still a “belief and faith in progress and growth”.
In particular, he singled out the changes which have allowed the Chinese air fleet to grow from 94 jets to 1,600 this year and a predicted 4,000 over the next decade when there is expected to be a fourfold increase in routes.
Christopher Rodrigues, chairman of VisitBritain, defended the incoming government against charges that it was anti-growth and anti-travel.
He said: “I don’t believe it’s gone anti-growth consciously and they are committed to growing both domestic and international tourism.”
Rodrigues added that part of the problem with the perception that the new government was anti-growth was that “tourism is an industry that touches many [cabinet] portfolios…most of the things that matter for tourism aren’t controlled by the minister of tourism”.
But he said the government did understand the “economic value of tourism…I think the government does support this”.
Tyler also said any move by worldwide governments to place new taxes on aviation would impact on the industry’s marginal profit structure, where profits were between 0.3% and 3% at peak levels.
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