Scrap flight tax to protect all passengers from impact of devolution urge UK airlines

January 28th, 2015

Airline industry unites to call for Air Passenger Duty to be abolished across the UK in the next Parliament


UK airlines are putting their differences aside to call for Air Passenger Duty (APD) to be abolished across the UK during the next Parliament. Nathan Stower, Chief Executive of the British Air Transport Association (BATA – the trade body for UK airlines), will tell industry leaders and politicians gathered in London tonight that growing public and political concern, combined with forthcoming devolution of powers over APD to Scotland, presents a new and unique opportunity to secure abolition.

At the UK airline industry’s annual dinner, BATA will describe recent reforms that abolish the two highest long-haul bands and exempt children from paying APD as ‘positive steps in right direction’, but will call for the final destination to be abolition. Nathan Stower will say:

The UK still has the highest tax on flying in the world by some margin. The next Government should finish the job, put this damaging tax on trade, tourism, families and businesses out of its misery, and abolish APD in the next Parliament.”

With keynote speaker and Former First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond MSP in attendance, BATA will welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to act on APD when they receive the necessary powers.

Citing Northern Ireland and the Netherlands as examples, BATA will highlight how passengers are prepared to travel across land borders to take advantage of differences in flight taxes. The UK Government was forced to significantly reduce APD on long-haul flights in Northern Ireland during this Parliament, followed swiftly by full devolution, to stem the flow of passengers travelling south to Dublin to take advantage of Ireland’s nominal equivalent tax. The UK and Scottish governments will be urged to learn from the Northern Ireland experience. BATA will say:

“BATA members respect the decision to devolve APD to Scotland and agree that the tax is damaging to families and businesses in Scotland, as it is in the rest of the UK. We welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to halving APD with a view to abolition, but urge that full abolition be achieved by both the Scottish and UK governments in the next Parliament to prevent unfairness for passengers across the UK and to avoid market distortions.”

Supporting the campaign, Carolyn McCall, easyJet CEO said:

“APD is tax on passengers and has a proven, negative impact on UK tourism, investment and business activity. That is why we are working with other UK airlines to abolish the tax.

“Abolishing APD would boost the UK economy and pay for itself by increasing revenues from other sources. Research by PwC has revealed that the GDP boost to the UK economy would amount to at least £16 billion in the first three years and result in almost 60,000 extra jobs in the UK over the longer term.”

David Burling, Managing Director for Thomson and First Choice, said:

“We wholeheartedly support the call for the full abolition of APD. The devolution of the power to levy APD to the Scottish Parliament may result in the sensible removal or reduction of this tax north of the border. Whilst we would of course support this for our Scottish customers, it would be unacceptable to have different rates of APD across the UK and  therefore, if this scenario emerged, we would  strongly urge the UK government to enforce consistent rates across the country to lessen the impact for customers travelling from  other regional airports.”

The abolition of APD will be one of five policy proposals contained in a new manifesto produced by BATA to be published in March. The manifesto will set out the economic and social benefits generated by UK airlines and will propose five policy areas where Government action would enable the sector to deliver even more in the next Parliament.



28th January 2015