A Twitter campaign with clout, combined with Sir Richard Branson’s opposition to rising Air Passenger Duty tax, has resulted in 40,000 emails being sent to MPs in just one day to protest against APD levels.
The Fair Tax on Flying group is calling on the Treasury to research how Air Passenger Duty affects the economy and in just one month since the campaign started, some 55,000 emails have been sent to MPs in total to highlight the fact that Britons have to pay higher APD than passengers in other countries.
The ‘Branson effect’ added fuel to the fire after Sir Richard Branson publicly backed the campaign last week and Virgin Atlantic say they are encouraging their passengers to write to MPs. Many travel organisations and individuals have been heavily campaigning on Twitter and Facebook to highlight awareness of the ‘unfair’ tax on Brits.
“Thousands of Virgin Atlantic passengers have thrown their support behind this campaign,” said Steve Ridgway, Virgin Atlantic’s chief executive.
“When people realise just how much tax they are paying to fly, particularly compared with other countries, they immediately want to tell their MP. I hope the politicians take their constituents’ concerns seriously, and then act.”
Simon Buck, chief executive of the British Air Transport Association, added: “Over the last week, thousands of people have spread the word on social networking sites such as Twitter.
“It is now clear beyond any doubt that individuals and families who want to go away on their annual holiday are sending a message to the government – that the UK’s air passenger taxes are now way, way too high.”
The Fair Tax on Flying group is comprised of travel companies and associations and The Telegraph, which points out on its website that “British air travellers now face taxes up to 30 times higher than those paid by our counterparts on the Continent” has been backing the campaign http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/air-passenger-duty/ recently, asking readers to sign its petition.
When the British Government increased APD by 8% in April it made it the highest air passenger tax anywhere in the world. Former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy MP is one of sixty-six MPs to have signed an ‘early day parliamentary motion’ to voice their concerns about what he called the "financial impact on ordinary families and their ability to fly".
Mr Kennedy added: "There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that the UK’s Air Passenger Duty is acting as a significant brake on inward investment and inbound tourism and is putting the UK at a competitive disadvantage, particularly against our European neighbours."
Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, said: "From the huge public support for this campaign it is clear beyond any doubt that Air Passenger Duty (APD) is now one of the most hated stealth taxes in the UK.
"Our hope is that as the holiday season approaches, many more people let their MP know what they think, that their MPs will lobby the Treasury, and that the Chancellor will respond by not putting up APD even further at the next Budget."
To find out more about the campaign, visit the ABTA website Fair Tax On Flying link www.abta.com/about/lobbying_and_government_affairs/afairtaxonflying