House of Commons committee calls for Air Passenger Duty to be scrapped

December 04, 2012 3:45 PM

The House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has suggested Air Passenger Duty (APD) on short-haul flights should be eliminated. The tax was said to be a “major stumbling block” to rebuilding the Northern Irish economy. With the Autumn Statement tomorrow, my colleague Rory Meakin earlier suggested that the Chancellor should cut APD to tackle the cost of living. He's right, and where the Northern Ireland Committee leads, the Chancellor should follow and deliver for the rest of the UK.

The tax has very little to do with cutting emissions. The Government’s own data has previously suggested climate change costs were comfortably met with APD, with excess revenue to spare. To make matters worse, it is a regressive tax – hitting those on lower incomes the hardest, especially at a time when living standards are already squeezed.

In Northern Ireland's case, the lack of realistic alternatives to air travel means that those needing to travel in and out are usually left with no choice but to stump up a large bill. The harm to businesses is worrying - firms have to pay more to trade and invest in Northern Ireland, meaning they might go elsewhere. By scrapping APD, doing business would be cheaper and Northern Ireland could compete with other, far cheaper European destinations.

But in the longer term, we should look to freeze and then eventually abolish APD in the rest of the UK. Compared to the rest of Europe, the UK is a far more expensive destination to fly to. But without stifling APD, tourists will find flying into the UK much less expensive than before. A greater influx of tourists would prompt much needed spending in the country and allow business to expand and create jobs.

It's often argued that the Schengen Agreement is the real reason more tourists fly to Europe rather than the UK. But if we make our visa applications a bit easier and cut APD, we'd be in a much better position to attract the growing numbers of tourists from around the World.

Lastly, hard-pressed families who are going on holiday would have some welcome relief. At present, a family of four flying to Spain would pay £62 in APD, while choosing Florida instead would cost a£240 in APD. The UK's tax on flying is the highest in the world and the Chancellor should get to work on getting rid of it.The House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has suggested Air Passenger Duty (APD) on short-haul flights should be eliminated. The tax was said to be a “major stumbling block” to rebuilding the Northern Irish economy. With the Autumn Statement tomorrow, my colleague Rory Meakin earlier suggested that the Chancellor should cut APD to tackle the cost of living. He's right, and where the Northern Ireland Committee leads, the Chancellor should follow and deliver for the rest of the UK.

The tax has very little to do with cutting emissions. The Government’s own data has previously suggested climate change costs were comfortably met with APD, with excess revenue to spare. To make matters worse, it is a regressive tax – hitting those on lower incomes the hardest, especially at a time when living standards are already squeezed.

In Northern Ireland's case, the lack of realistic alternatives to air travel means that those needing to travel in and out are usually left with no choice but to stump up a large bill. The harm to businesses is worrying - firms have to pay more to trade and invest in Northern Ireland, meaning they might go elsewhere. By scrapping APD, doing business would be cheaper and Northern Ireland could compete with other, far cheaper European destinations.

But in the longer term, we should look to freeze and then eventually abolish APD in the rest of the UK. Compared to the rest of Europe, the UK is a far more expensive destination to fly to. But without stifling APD, tourists will find flying into the UK much less expensive than before. A greater influx of tourists would prompt much needed spending in the country and allow business to expand and create jobs.

It's often argued that the Schengen Agreement is the real reason more tourists fly to Europe rather than the UK. But if we make our visa applications a bit easier and cut APD, we'd be in a much better position to attract the growing numbers of tourists from around the World.

Lastly, hard-pressed families who are going on holiday would have some welcome relief. At present, a family of four flying to Spain would pay £62 in APD, while choosing Florida instead would cost a£240 in APD. The UK's tax on flying is the highest in the world and the Chancellor should get to work on getting rid of it.

Latest Blogs:

TaxPayers' Alliance Icon

The sugar tax and the public finances

6:00 AM 05, Dec 2016 Harry Fairhead

TaxPayers' Alliance Icon

Working for the taxman

6:00 AM 26, Nov 2016 Harry Fairhead

TaxPayers' Alliance Icon

Further thoughts on the Autumn Statement

4:56 PM 24, Nov 2016 James Price

TaxPayers' Alliance Icon

Have we had too much austerity?

10:57 AM 23, Nov 2016 Alex Wild