Carriers urge new government to rule out per passenger levy

The new government must rule out a pre-passenger levy to fund repatriation when airlines fail.

The demand is one of a number put forward by industry association Airlines UK ahead of the December 12 general election.

The organisation also wants to see insolvency laws updated to ‘keep the fleet flying’ in the event of an airline entering administration.

This would enabling the carrier to use its own aircraft to return passengers to their point of departure – unlike in the case of the Thomas Cook collapse where the Civil Aviation Authority had to step in to charter scores of aircraft to fly holidaymakers home.

“Effective scrutiny” by the CAA of at-risk airlines must be ensured instead of a levy per passenger to cover repatriation, according to Airlines UK.

The organisation also wants to seed Air Passenger Duty cut by at least 50% across the board, with a long term aim of abolishing the tax.

The double taxation on domestic air travel should also be axed to boost UK connectivity and support regional aviation.

There must also be government support to deliver ‘net zero carbon’ aviation, grow connectivity and deliver new airport capacity including the expansion of Heathrow.

After Brexit, whoever is in power must prioritise establishing a new comprehensive, liberal EU-UK air services agreement “that delivers a level playing field for UK operators and safeguards current market access”, as well as secures UK participation in the European Aviation Safety Agency.

Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade said: “If UK aviation is serious about growing to meet future passenger and freight demand, the next few years will be about demonstrating we can do this whilst delivering on carbon reduction.

“Airlines are clear that provided it is done through an international framework, net zero carbon is within reach for UK aviation by 2050.

“But we cannot do this alone. Airlines are investing billions in the cleanest, greenest planes, but we need a renewed partnership between government and industry to deliver the technologies that will get us to net zero, including airspace modernisation, sustainable aviation fuels and – further into the future – electric or hybrid electric engines.

“Provided we deliver on this agenda we will earn the right to grow – but this growth cannot be taken for granted either without the right policy framework in place.

“So airlines will work with government to support an expanded Heathrow but are clear this will not deliver for consumers if charges have to increase to pay for it.

“We will utilise capacity at other UK airports provided we have a fairer APD regime and better surface access connections that can widen catchment areas.”

He added: “UK aviation is at a crossroads. If we get things right over the next few years we can look forward to continued success as an enabler of economic growth and prosperity. Carriers look forward to playing their full part in this endeavour.”

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