Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary and Willie Walsh, Chief Executive of British Airways, are in London today to put pressure on the UK government to scrap Air Passenger Duty.
Virgin and EasyJet also want the tax to go, arguing that the knock on effect impacts UK jobs, visitors numbers to UK, making the UK a less attractive destinations.
“This tax is hugely damaging and must be axed,” said Willie Walsh on BBC Breakfast this morning, while Michael O’Leary argued that for most British families, holidays are not a luxury but have become part of their annual expenditure, a much needed week or two in the sun to escape the UK weather.
The tax first came into force in 1994 and is applied to almost every ticket on flights originating in the UK. Since it was introduced the tax has risen sharply. Originally, the cost per passenger was somewhere between £5 and £40 per ticket; these days passengers have to pay from £12 to £170. The cost of APD payable depends on the length of the flight and business and first class travellers pay the most.
The BBC’s transport correspondent Richard Lister said: "The chancellor put this year’s increases on hold, but a further rise of around 10% is expected next year.
"The airlines say that as the tax was first introduced to combat greenhouse gas emissions it should be abolished with the introduction of the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme next year.
"The government is considering making changes to Air Passenger Duty, but has made clear that it regards the tax as an important way of raising revenue, and expects it to generate more than £2bn this year."
In the Republic of Ireland, Air Travel Tax is just three euros to any destination, and the Netherlands scrapped a similar tax after an enquiry showed it could be potentially damaging to the country’s economy.