The chief executives of IAG, easyJet and Ryanair have united to urge the government to scrap air passenger duty ahead of Wednesday’s Autumn Statement.

Under the umbrella group Airlines for Europe (A4E), Willie Walsh, Carolyn McCall and Michael O’Leary called for the controversial tax to be scrapped to boost economic growth, business and tourism.

The statement said the removal of the tax was particularly needed to strengthen global business links post-Brexit, and said its removal would boost GDP by 1.7% and create 61,000 new jobs by 2020.

The AFE statement follows similar calls last week from the Airport Operators Association and cross-party MPs who make up the British Infrastructure Group.

A report from BIG called for APD to be cut by 50%, then scrapped altogether.

Walsh said: “APD damages the UK’s competitiveness and jobs. It’s a revenue-raising tax designed to suppress air transport growth which is exactly what the economy does not need right now.

“Britain spends many millions of pounds attracting people to the country only to charge them up to £146 when they leave.

“Other countries which have scrapped their aviation taxes have seen an immediate boost to their GDP and tourism. Why saddle businesses and tourists with a tax that your

European competitors do not have? APD is well past its sell-by date and must be scrapped.”

Short-haul passengers are currently being charged £13 for every departing flight from the UK, which rises to £146 for long-haul passengers. This fee is set to increase to up to £150 next April.

McCall said: “At easyJet we are proud to help bring people to the UK and, like the government, we want the UK to be open for business.

“Removing APD, a tax on passengers that suffocates demand, would certainly stimulate economic growth and make travel easier and more affordable. There is so much evidence to support this in other countries.”