Air passenger duty (APD) has been frozen by the chancellor in the autumn Budget.
Philip Hammond announced the freeze to the House of Commons on Wednesday, November 22.
Short-haul APD rates will be frozen, but there will be an increase on premium class tickets and on private jets.
But many leading voices in the travel industry have been calling for a cut to the tax, which is charged on the carriage of passengers from the UK, which they say will boost the economy.
Responding to the announcement, Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, said: “We welcome the Chancellor’s recognition that Air Passenger Duty is a burden on families and businesses and has taken the decision to freeze it.
“However, UK APD remains double the next highest rate in the EU so it is disappointing that the Chancellor has not gone further to address the competitive disadvantage this creates for the UK.
“Aviation is crucial to connecting the UK to the existing and emerging markets that will be vital to our post-Brexit future. APD is a “tax on trade” that holds back growth in the UK’s international connectivity and hits people and businesses travelling to enhance our global trading relationships as well as the tourism industry that contributes so much to all UK regions.”
Glyn Jones, chief executive of Southend airport owners Stobart Aviation, said: “It’s disappointing that the chancellor has missed the opportunity of reforming short-haul air passenger duty (APD). Smaller airports need help to compete on a level playing field particularly with Brexit around the corner.
“A partial freeze on the tax is woefully short of what we need. It should be removed from smaller airports which would encourage airlines to base more flights outside the larger airports.
“Smaller airports need a reasonable return on the significant capital that is invariably invested. It’s not difficult to see what the result of increasing costs and falling demand due to Brexit could have on these businesses.
“An APD reduction would help address the capacity crisis, particularly in the south east, which so often exacerbates the delays passengers face.”
Regional airline Flybe said it was “disappointed” in the decision not to cut APD.
A spokesman said: “Flybe is disappointed that the Chancellor has once again missed the opportunity to lower Air Passenger Duty.
“The UK’s APD is among the highest in the world and it is a highly damaging tax which penalises domestic travellers. Reducing APD and supporting domestic aviation would have been in line with the Government’s stated aim of spreading economic growth more evenly across the UK – this is sadly another missed opportunity to act.”
Karen Dee added: “The AOA also believes that any cut in APD anywhere in the UK should be matched by a cut everywhere else. For that reason, the UK Government should commit to match APD to the Scottish Government’s planned Air Departure Tax, regardless of the delayed introduction announced today and should ensure that the planned review of APD in Northern Ireland looks at APD across the whole of the UK.”
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