Chancellor urged to scrap aviation tax in Autumn Statement

Photographer Ian GAir lobby urges scrapping of Air Passenger Duty. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Photographer Ian GAir lobby urges scrapping of Air Passenger Duty. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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A leading aviation lobby group has urged the scrappiing of Air Passenger Duty (APD) ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement this week.

Willie Walsh, chief executive of the British Airways-owning International Airlines Group (IAG), and Carolyn McCall and Michael O’Leary, his counterparts at EasyJet and Ryanair respectively, have told Philip Hammond via Airlines for Europe, that the APD is “hampering Britain’s economic growth”.

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

Willie Walsh

They say that countries which have abolished aviation taxes “have seen an immediate boost to GDP and tourism”, and cite a report by management consultancy and accountany giant PwC claiming that scrapping APD “would boost UK GDP by 1.7 per cent” by 2020.

“It’s a revenue raising tax designed to suppress air transport growth which is exactly what the economy does not need right now,” Walsh said.

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

Ryanair boss O’Leary said that the introduction of a travel tax in Ireland in 2009 caused passenger numbers “to collapse by almost 25 per cent, from 30 million to 23 million over four years, damaging tourism and inhibiting growth”.

In 2015, APD, which was introduced 21 years ago, raised more than £3 billion from nearly 110 million passengers. McCall commented: “It is not just visitors to the UK the tax affects - people travelling between London and Edinburgh for example are currently being hit twice as hard by paying £13 each way on the flights.”

She added that scrapping the tax would “make travel easier and more affordable”.

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