Responding to the Autumn Statement delivered by the Chancellor earlier today, Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, the trade association representing UK airlines, said:
“The failure to take action on Air Passenger Duty is a missed opportunity to support family budgets and demonstrate that – in the current Brexit climate – the UK is open for business. It is increasingly untenable – at a time when we are looking to strike deals and open ourselves up to new markets and opportunities – for Ministers to continue to levy such excessively high levels of taxation on air travel. With new capacity at Heathrow not likely to be operational for another ten years at least, it was important for the Government to signal that improving connections from airports across the country and making the UK more competitive internationally is a top priority – and they failed in that task.
“It is also extremely disappointing that the Government has failed to set out conclusively how they intend to respond to the Scottish Government reducing the tax by 50% in April 2018. It is still the policy of the Government to ensure that airports in England and elsewhere do not lose out by way of competitive distortion and yet by refusing to take a decision on any of the options currently under consideration until we leave the EU – whenever that may be – Ministers are prolonging the uncertainty that has built up over the past couple of years. The airline community was united in believing that none of the options were satisfactory – principally for the reason that all three would result in undue distortion of the market within England, with negative impacts for regional economies and consumers, and the summary of responses to the Treasury discussion paper published today makes clear that none of the options attracted support within industry. The fact that they have not been ruled out is a complete mystery, and begs the question of how the UK Government will respond once the APD cut north of the border takes place.”