A senior travel industry figure has said he can understand why the Treasury has refused to accept the industry case for cutting Air Passenger Duty (APD).

Guild of Travel Management Companies (GTMC) chief executive Paul Wait, until recently head of sales at Virgin Atlantic, said: “I can understand why the Treasury has listened with folded arms.

“We need to get to a stage where we can promise cutting APD will deliver investment.”

Addressing the GTMC conference in Barcelona, Wait said: “I don’t think any government is going to take a different view.

“We can increase our lobbying effort, but I’m not sure it will make a difference whatever the government.”

Wait noted former transport secretary Lord Adonis had told the recent Institute of Travel and Meetings (ITM) conference that no government would lower APD.

Referring to the recent PwC report on the impact of APD, commissioned by airlines including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, Wait said: “The report said if APD was abolished it could provide a boost, it could create 60,000 jobs, it could pay for itself.

“If someone knocks on your door and says give me £20,000 and it could turn into £60,000, would you give it?”

Wait told Travel Weekly: “We fully support Abta and the Fair Tax on Flying campaign. We do have to keep lobbying. We can’t just give up.”

But he said: “There is no point going to the Treasury saying ‘we want you to do less’.

“We want to be able to say to the Treasury: if you drop APD, companies will reinvest the money in business trips.

“If we say to chief financial officers now, ‘what will you do with the money if APD is cut – invest in business travel or put it on the bottom line’, what will they say?”

BA UK head of sales and marketing Richard Tams said “Paul may be right” but added: “Remember the hundreds of smaller companies with no chief financial officers. Getting APD back could mean more business travel by them.”