Aviation-supporting MPs have told the industry it needs to provide solid data on the effects of Air Passenger Duty (APD) and capacity constraints at Heathrow if they are to influence the government.

Chairman of the All-Party Aviation Group of MPs Brian Donohue told Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer yesterday: “Give us the information to go to the Treasury.”

Tanzer appeared before a committee of the group’s MPs at a hearing into the impact of government policy on the travel industry.

The Abta chief told the MPs: “This is a price-sensitive sector and it is more difficult for people to afford holidays now. It is absolutely certain there is an impact from APD, but we have not been able to make the government aware of all the impacts.”

Tanzer said: “We have no figures on the impact if APD was removed. It is tied to other issues around aviation. APD is one of the things that will discourage people from flying.”

When MPs suggested the industry is “its own worst enemy”, Tanzer said: “We do need a more solid data set.”

He added: “We have not been good at mobilising customers and making it more transparent to constituents that APD is a tax on their holidays. When MPs get people coming into their surgeries saying they can’t afford to go on holiday, we will get some notice.”

Donohue told him: “I’ve not had a single person tell me they are not going on holiday because of APD.”
Tanzer also told the committee:  “The fact that additional capacity at Heathrow is ruled out politically does not mean it is not the best option.”

British Airways head of government affairs Tom King told the MPs: “Heathrow has fewer connections to major markets than any other major airport in Europe. There is clearly a correlation between direct links to a market and the amount of trade.

“If Heathrow wants a new service it has to give up on somewhere else. Everyone is squeezing the last drop of efficiency out of Heathrow.”

The government is preparing to publish a framework document on the future of air travel. Donohue said: “It is up to us to see that Heathrow expansion is ruled in.”