The government is being urged to use the November 23 autumn statement to remove Air Passenger Duty on air travel from UK airports.

The joint call for ministers to send a message to the world that the UK is open for business post-Brexit came from Airlines UK chief executive, Tim Alderslade and Board of Airline Representatives in the UK chief executive, Dale Keller.

The heads of the UK’s two main airline organisations welcomed approval for the building of an additional runway at Heathrow, but they added that “the truth is that this capacity will not be operational for another ten years at least”.

They said in a joint statement: “In the meantime there are airports across the UK with plenty of spare capacity, and the government needs to do more to broaden their appeal to would-be airline customers.

“At the very top of the list of things they could prioritise – alongside improving surface connectivity – is dealing with APD.

“In the post-Brexit world, when we are looking to strike deals and see the UK become a standard-bearer of global free trade, it is becoming increasingly untenable for the government to continue to levy excessively high levels of APD.

“Only aviation can connect the UK to the emerging markets that are seen as vital to our continued prosperity, and retaining an uncompetitive passenger tax is an open invitation to our international rivals to steal a march on us.”

They warned: “Brexit has changed everything and we will not be able to take full advantage of the opportunities presented in terms of greater liberalisation unless action is taken now to become truly competitive.”