EasyJet has stepped up its lobbying for a greener tax on air travel, taking out full page advertisments in national newspapers that put it at loggerheads with British Airways and other carriers.
The government has pledged to replace air passenger duty with a tax on aircraft from November 2009 and the Treasury is working on proposals to be unveiled soon. But BA and other long-haul airlines want APD retained, cargo firms oppose the switch and the US government has threatened a legal challenge to a tax on aircraft.
APD excludes cargo flights and business jets as well as passengers from overseas transferring to other flights in the UK. EasyJet suggests transfer passengers, business jets and cargo flights should pay like everyone else and that more-polluting aircraft should pay extra.
EasyJet chief executive Andy Harrison said: “We have a one-off opportunity to make air tax a greener tax. Air tax must encourage airlines to behave more responsibly and no one should get a free ride.”
A spokesman for the airline added: “A tax that penalises families but excludes private jets and cargo and charges passengers travelling to Marrakech the same as those travelling to Melbourne is just plain wrong.”
However, much of the rest of the industry is lobbying against such a change. Parliamentary undersecretary for transport Jim Fitzpatrick admitted last week: “Difficulties surround the decision. There are strong arguments that we should not proceed with the transition.”