The most high-profile figure in UK aviation has issued a fresh call for the Chancellor to axe Air Passenger Duty (APD).
Willie Walsh, head of British Airways’ and Iberia parent company International Airlines Group, warns APD is “depressing economic activity” at a time when economic conditions are deteriorating and growth forecasts being scaled back.
Writing in 2012’s first issue of Travel Weekly, published today, Walsh says: “The Chancellor seems blind to the aviation industry’s potential for contributing to economic recovery.
“He has hit aviation with a rise in APD twice the level of inflation [when] it is already the highest aviation tax anywhere in the world.
“This extraordinary level of tax is undermining the aviation industry and damaging the UK economy. It deters people from visiting the UK. It chokes off jobs . . . making it impossible for BA to proceed with its recruitment plans.”
Walsh points out UK air passenger traffic has fallen below the level of 2004 and contrasts the situation with that elsewhere in the European Union where 22 of the 27 member states “have no equivalent flight tax at all”.
He says far from sending a message to the world that “Britain is open for business”, as the Chancellor suggested last March, the government’s actions on APD “send a message that Britain is a difficult and expensive place to do business”.