The Conservative Party has outlined a detailed transport policy ahead of the general election in Great Britain on May 6th – with reform of Air Passenger Duty (APD) a key part of the platform.
Presenting the party’s manifesto at Battersea Power Station, leader David Cameron pledged to reform APD to encourage a switch to fuller and cleaner planes.
The duty has been branded a “tax on tourism” by commentators, with passengers seeing prices rise during the recession.
However, the Labour government has stood by the duty, insisting it is environmentally sound.
Commenting on the Conservatives’ manifesto pledge to reform APD, easyJet chief executive Andy Harrison said: “We welcome the Conservatives’ promise to reform the UK’s daft air tax.
“A tax that forces families to subsidise private jets, cargo planes and 20 million foreign transfer passengers per year is way past its sell-by date.
“From an environmental perspective APD gives a perverse incentive – full planes pay the highest tax while empty ones pay no tax at all.”
In terms of infrastructure, the Conservatives have joined with the Liberal Democrats in opposing a third runway at London’s Heathrow Airport.
Again this is stark contrast to Labour, which has continued to support the expansion of the world’s busiest international airport, despite recent setbacks.
Mr Cameron also detailed plans to block second runways at London Stansted or London Gatwick airports.
Instead the party will focus energies on shifting economic prosperity toward the regions and away from south-east England, largely through the construction of a new high-speed railway network.
“A Conservative government will begin work immediately to create a high-speed rail line connecting London and Heathrow with Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds,” read the party’s manifesto.
“This is the first step towards achieving our vision of creating a national high speed rail network to join up major cities across England, Scotland and Wales.”
Stage two of the proposed plans will deliver two new lines, bringing the north-east, Scotland and Wales into the high speed rail network.
“Because travel abroad is so important for our economy and for family holidays, we need to improve our airports and reduce the environmental impact of flying.
“Our goal is to make Heathrow airport better, not bigger.”
The Conservative’s also confirmed their support for Crossrail, while also endorsing the electrification of the Great Western line to South Wales.
However, funding for these projects was not outlined.
The full Conservative manifesto – entitled ‘An Invitation to Join the Government of Britain – can be seen here.