EasyJet chief seeks ‘all flights’ APD review following Flybe deal

EasyJet is lobbying the government to reduce air passenger duty (APD) on all flights in a review of the tax next month.

Johan Lundgren, easyJet chief executive, revealed the carrier’s demand following the government’s agreement with Flybe last week.

The Department for Transport (DfT), Department for Energy, Business and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Treasury confirmed a review of APD in time for the Chancellor’s budget in March as part of a deal to prevent Flybe going into administration.

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The Treasury said the review would aim “to ensure regional connectivity is maintained while meeting the UK’s climate change commitments”.

Lundgren said: “We are engaging directly with the government on this to get clarity around what is proposed.

“This is an opportunity to revise APD. It’s a tax that should be reduced.

“UK consumers pay one of the highest [aviation] taxes in the world and it’s not linked to efficiency on flying. Carbon emissions and offsetting should be taken into consideration.”

Lundgren insisted: “We’re highly critical if unique benefits are given to an individual airline. The revision should cover the whole of APD not just domestic flying.

“It should be linked to the efficiency of airlines and the revenue should go back into developing carbon-reduction technology in aviation. That’s what we’re arguing for.”

Lundgren joined other airline chiefs, Michael O’Leary of Ryanair and Willie Walsh of British Airways’ parent IAG, in slamming the government’s rescue deal with Flybe last week.

He was speaking as he delivered easyJet’s first-quarter results for the three months to December on Tuesday.

Lundgren reported “a strong performance” saying: “Capacity grew 1%, passenger revenue grew 9.7% and ancillary revenue 10.8%.”

He added: “There is lower capacity growth market, [but] we see robust levels of demand across Europe.”

The carrier upgraded its revenue forecast for the first half of the financial year, saying: “We expect mid-to-high single-digit growth in revenue in the first half and a fall in headline losses.

“We have limited visibility on the summer at this point, but we’re very pleased with the start of the year.”

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