MPs demand 12-month abolition of APD

A cross-party group of MPS and peers have joined airlines and airports in demanding a 12-month abolition of Air Passenger Duty.

The 29 parliamentarians want to see the tax scrapped for a year, claiming the country risked losing almost half the air routes that could be otherwise saved and 8,000 jobs.

The have written to chancellor Rishi Sunak saying action on APD could encourage an extra 21 million passengers to travel once the UK comes out of lockdown, according to The Telegraph.

A research report by consultancy York Aviation also suggested it could generate £7 billion in gross value added to the economy, more than three times the revenue that would be generated by keeping APD.

An APD freeze would also give families a financial incentive to take postponed holidays and help make key routes viable to operate again, the MPs said.

“Without extra Government intervention, [UK think-tank] the New Economics Foundation predicts up to 124,000 jobs will be lost in the aviation industry and its supply chains,” said the group, led by Crawley MP Henry Smith, chair of the all-party Future of Aviation lobby group.

“To prevent a complete collapse of the industry, and to protect regional connectivity, we are calling on you to suspend Air Passenger Duty for 12 months to get Britain flying again.”

 In September, the government issued notice of a rise in the passenger tax from April 2021 despite industry calls for a 12-month ‘holiday’ from APD.

The tax represents £26 per passenger on short haul economy flights to most of Europe and £150 per passenger on long-haul flights.

The Airport Operators Association wrote to Boris Johnson ahead of its annual conference today (Monday) with a plea for urgent financial support and for testing to be operational by December.

Smith, whose constituency includes Gatwick, reportedly said: “Our aviation industry has been amongst the hardest hit by the pandemic and has faced this brutal reality without the levels of support afforded to other sectors and it is high time the government brought forward a full package of support measures.

“This must include a 12-month suspension of air passenger duty as soon as international travel resumes. We risk holding back our aviation sector and wider economic recovery by continuing to levy the highest aviation taxes in the world.”

The other MPs include former ministers Crispin Blunt, Steve Brine and Tim Loughton, DUP Westminster leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, and representatives from Labour, the Liberal Democrats, SDLP and Alliance parties.

They cited York Aviation’s research that suspending APD would protect regional airports by saving 45% of otherwise-lost routes in the UK and safeguard transport links in under-served areas of the country protecting 8,000 jobs.

Proposals to reduce quarantine to as little as five days as part of a proposed Covid testing regime could help revive travel if the government travel ban is lifted when the national lockdown is reviewed at the start of December.

The government Global Taskforce on testing, chaired by transport secretary Grant Shapps and health secretary Matt Hancock, is due to report to the prime minister this week.

It is likely to recommend quarantine should be reduced to at least seven days and possibly five days in light of new scientific evidence which showed that tests on the fifth day detected 83% to 90% of Covid cases – the same rate as on the seventh day.

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