The Federation of Tour Operators’ appeal against the Government’s decision to double Air Passenger Duty was heard in the Court of Appeal yesterday.

Director general Andy Cooper said while it was too early to tell how the hearing had gone, the FTO’s lawyer remains optimistic about the FTO’s chances of winning the appeal.

He added: “We had a positive hearing, and the judges asked a number of questions showing very good understanding of the issues, and seemed broadly supportive of our position.

“In some ways, it is difficult to form any view as to how we have fared in the appeal before we get judgment, although Charles Haddon Cave QC, who represented us, is very positive about our chances of success.

“Lord Justice Waller did comment during the hearing that he thought that our original letter to the Chancellor, sent the day after the announcement was “impressive” in making our points clearly and succinctly.

“It is not clear when judgment will be given, but counsel believes that it will be relatively quickly.”

The hearing was part of the ongoing fight by the FTO against the High Court ruling last September dismissing its case against the doubling of air passenger duty in February 2007 and seek £50 million in compensation for the way the increase was introduced.

Tour operators were forced to pick up the £50 million bill to cover the extra APD on holidays booked before the rise was announced after the Treasury refused calls to exempt the travel trade.

Airlines were able to bill passengers for the increase in tax, but tour operators were legally prevented from doing so.

Lawyers for the FTO argued yesterday the Treasury unfairly penalised the trade and demand compensation under European human rights legislation.