Leading overseas airlines lent support to the UK industry campaign for a review of Air Passenger Duty (APD) at WTM.
Thierry Antinori, Emirates vice-president for worldwide passenger sales, and CityJet chief executive Christine Ourmieres gave their backing despite a belief that overseas carriers benefit from offering long-haul flights without APD from hubs outside of Britain.
Referring to the Fair Tax on Flying coalition’s demand for an official review of APD, Antinori said: “The UK is number one for the Olympics. You don’t need to be number one for air taxes. The case [for a review] is convincing.”
He said APD had not stopped Emirates growing in the UK, but added: “We could grow more without APD.”
Ourmieres said: “Leisure travel is hugely sensitive to price. There should be an [economic] impact.”
Emirates operates a global network from its hub in Dubai with five connections a day from Heathrow, while CityJet flies into KLM’s hub Amsterdam Schiphol from London City, although Ourmieres said: “Connecting traffic is not our priority.”
A Fair Tax on Flying won MPs’ support for an official review of APD’s economic impact in a parliamentary debate last week.
Luke Pollard, head of public affairs at travel association Abta, said: “APD is the highest air tax in the world and it is affecting our ability to match our competitors. We’re seeing a lot more people interlining via European hubs because you can save money.”
Pollard also demanded the government “be brave” in tackling airport expansion. Referring to the Davies Commission, he said: “A lot of wild and wonderful options are being put on the table. We want the government to be brave and publish the recommendations before the next election.”