EasyJet blasts destructive airport tax hike plan

Proposed changes to the air passenger duty (APD) departure tax would have a "destructive" effect on the economy, the environment and jobs, a report commissioned by budget airline EasyJet claimed yesterday.

The changes would cut UK passenger numbers by three million a year, increase CO2 emissions by 360,000 tonnes a year, and reduce tourist spending in the UK by 475 million annually, the report claimed.

The findings by consultants at Frontier Economics said the changes would reduce UK gross domestic product by 2.6 billion a year, trigger 77,000 job losses and hit regional airports more than the major London airports.

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Government proposals published in March would increase APD from 12 to 16 per person for flights up to 2,000 miles, while reducing the rates and number of tax bands on long-haul flights.

However, yesterday's report said that although the changes would cut the total number of flights, they would actually increase CO2 emissions by encouraging more long-haul flights.

Carolyn McCall, chief executive of Luton-based EasyJet, said: "This report shows that the government's proposals would be bad for the environment and the economy. APD has already risen by 140 per cent since 2007 on short-haul flights."

Chris Brown, co-founder of online travel agency sunshine.co.uk, said: "If Britons want to go on holiday, I'm not convinced they'll be put off by the idea just because of a slight rise in costs."