ABTA appears in front of two Parliamentary inquiries at the same time to press for lower air taxes and a new aviation policy from Government.
ABTA’s campaign against ever increasing Air Passenger Duty rates took to Parliament today with two simultaneous appearances before MPs investigating the impact of APD on the economy and whether Government has its aviation policy right.
Mark Tanzer ABTA Chief Executive, spoke today before the All Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Aviation setting out the main points in ABTA’s written response to the APPG. Mr Tanzer called on the Treasury to commission an independent analysis of the impact of Air Passenger Duty (APD) on the UK economy and to reconsider its decision to rule out additional runways elsewhere in the South East after its categorical refusal to allow construction of a third runway at Heathrow.
Meanwhile, ABTA’s Head of Public Affairs, Luke Pollard, and ABTA Northern Ireland Member, Dorreen McKenzie from Knock Travel, were appearing in front of the Northern Ireland Select Committee as part of efforts by the Association to support the devolution of APD to Belfast. The Government has announced plans to devolve powers to set APD rates for destinations in Band B and above will move to Stormont later this year. ABTA is calling for all APD powers to be devolved to Northern Ireland so that the province can compete against the much lower Republic of Ireland’s air tax. Last month Luke Pollard and Doreen McKenzie gave evidence to the Nothern Ireland Assembly on this topic and encouraged the Assembly to press the Treasury for greater powers over APD in order that the province can compete against the lower tax rates for flying of the Republic of Ireland.
ABTA believes that high levels of APD are putting the whole UK economy at a competitive disadvantage to its continental neighbours and damaging the UK’s traditional lead as an international aviation hub. This correlation between high levels of aviation tax and sluggish economic growth has long been recognised on the continent with the Dutch, Belgian and Danish governments all having removed or dropped plans for their versions of APD after assessments of the overall negative impact on their economies. Ireland has reduced its APD rates and now attracts over 1 million customers from Northern Ireland each year.
Mark Tanzer ABTA Chief Executive said: “If the Government is serious about growth, then it must have a serious aviation policy. This means not only looking again at increased aviation capacity in the South East of England, but also looking again at plans to keep raising the level of Air Passenger Duty. Aviation, for business or leisure, is one of the ways the UK can lift itself out of recession. I know that ABTA Members are keen to do their part, but they are looking to Government for a new approach to aviation – that is the message we took to MPs today and one that we will be continuing to make in the coming months.”
Luke Pollard, ABTA’s Head of Public Affairs added: “Alongside other Fair Tax on Flying members we are calling for an independent analysis of the impact of APD on the UK economy. If the Government truly believes that APD’s contribution to the Treasury outweighs its impact on growth then it has nothing to fear from the survey’s findings. Its refusal to allow any increase in airport capacity is also dangerously short sighted. We are already losing routes and business to our overseas competitors and if we don’t take action now we risk losing UK aviation’s traditional competitive edge forever.”