TPA supporters protested against Air Passenger Duty (APD) in Bristol Airport yesterday, setting up a stall in the departure zone and chatting to holidaymakers.
APD is a departure tax charged on flights from the UK and can add over hundreds of pounds to long haul flights. On a standard rate flight from London to New York, it adds £138 to the overall cost. For a longer flight to South East Asia that becomes a whopping £170. As for a family holiday to Florida with economy flights that’s an extra £276 in duty alone. Even on short haul flights the hated holiday tax can push up the cost of a flight by as much as 50%.
“You spend all year working to pay the high cost of living,” said one traveller, “and you get slapped with this on your holiday. To just pay for this tax I’d have to work five shifts. It’s just not fair.”
“Our particular concern in Bristol,” said Jacqui Mills of Bristol Airport, ‘is that if a devolved Wales gets tax raising powers, it will scrap this duty—just as Scotland would too—and then Cardiff will grab all our travel trade with cheaper duty-free fares.”
The tax was first introduced in 2006 and has been increased several times since then, being doubled in 2007 and going up by 8% in 2012, with increases by the rate of inflation in 2013 and 2014.
This year’s Budget announced some reforms to the tax which will reduce the future burden on travellers a little. Passengers flying to all long-haul destinations from April 2015 will pay the same rate as they do to fly to the US. However, passengers using private jets will be hit harder by the changes, paying six times the amount of APD charged to economy class passengers. And of course, the changes do little for families jetting off to the beaches of Spain, Portugal and Turkey this summer.
A spokesman for IAG, British Airways’ parent company, was unimpressed, saying “It still punishes families and costs UK jobs. The only long-term solution is to scrap APD in its entirety and allow the aviation and tourism industries to flourish, to the benefit of the wider UK economy.”
It’s time for George Osborne to go further, and make Britain an aviation-friendly country once again.