The UK travel industry is calling on the government to halt any further rises in aviation tax to prevent further damage to the UK economy.
Airport operator, BAA, and national flag carrier, British Airways, are just two of the industry partners urging the government to scrap plans to raise the unpopular Air Passenger Duty (APD) tax by a further €1.6 billion per annum by 2015.
The UK’s APD has increased by 2,600% since it was first introduced in 1994 and it is predicted that this year €2.6 billion of holidaymakers’ and business travellers’ money will pour into the Treasury’s coffers.
Since 2007, when the government began introducing a series of significant hikes in the tax, air passenger numbers from the UK have fallen by 22% from more than 81mppa in 2007 to 63mppa in 2010.
The 'fair tax on flying' campaign against the government is being spearheaded by UK travel association ABTA.
ABTA chief executive, Mark Tanzer, says: “When it comes to the future of tourism in the UK, the government’s words and deeds simply do not match up.
“The Prime Minister has identified tourism as one of the top five industries to drive growth, yet aviation tax has become a punitive stealth tax.
“It is vital that the Government understands the impact it is having on the health of the tourism industry in the UK. The industry is willing to pay its way, but a 26-fold increase since 1994 puts the UK at a competitive disadvantage when compared with our European neighbours and punishes UK holidaymakers and business travellers unfairly.
“Air passenger numbers have decreased by 22% since 2007 when the tax was last increased, and increasing it yet further will cause significant strain on hard-pressed family budgets and hamper the UK economy’s growth.”
A BAA statement warns: “We must enhance the UK’s attractiveness overseas by reconsidering future plans around aviation duty, as well as making visa processes more visitor-friendly.
“As well as aviation and travel, a whole host of other jobs across the leisure industry depend on people travelling to the UK, where we currently have the highest aviation taxes in the world.
"It is vital we look at the bigger picture and take decisive action to help the private sector support our recovery by making Britain a competitive magnet for tourism.”
British Airways chief executive, Keith Williams, adds: “We recognise the exceptional difficulty of the country's fiscal position and we are content to pay our fair share. But the UK airline industry is already the most heavily taxed in the world and any further tax burden will be counterproductive to the country's economic recovery."