easyJet Hails Aviation White Paper as Step in the Right Direction

easyJet has welcomed the UK Government’s decision to provide for a second runway at London Stansted Airport, announced today by Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for Transport.
It is encouraging that the Government has put forward a far-sighted agenda which strikes the right balance between enabling the sustainable growth of UK aviation and meeting the industry’s environmental responsibilities. easyJet congratulated the Government for paving the way towards an aviation emissions trading scheme, which will provide the most efficient incentives for the industry to ultimately reduce its environmental impact.

easyJet also congratulated the Government for its recognition that Air Passenger Duty (APD) is an inappropriate way of mitigating the environmental impact of aviation. However, easyJet believes now is the time for the Government to address the distortions in the current APD regime. The airline has long argued that APD, like almost all other taxes, should be related to the fare paid, rather than the current flat rate (£5 per passenger for flights to the UK and continental European destinations), which discriminates against airlines offering low-fares and provides no incentive for the aviation industry to take steps to reduce its environmental impact. We are encouraged that the Secretary of State has committed to introduce differential charges to reward airlines that operate the cleanest and quietest aircraft.

Ray Webster
, easyJet Chief Executive, said:

“Of all the places where a new runway could have gone in the near-term in the South East of England, Stansted is the most obvious choice. It is the airport that has been identified for long-term expansion and will avoid the constraints particular to Heathrow Airport.

“Providing the funding of the new infrastructure comes from those who are going to use it, without cross-subsidisation from other users or airports, this should be welcomed by all parts of the industry.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The Government is right not to expand Heathrow at this current time. Rather than laying concrete, the Government should be doing everything it can to eliminate the 40% of all Heathrow slots that are used for connecting short-haul to long-haul services.

“Customers are already voting with their feet and moving away from Heathrow for short-haul point-to-point travel in favour of low-cost airlines at more efficient airports. Beyond that, the European Commission is currently negotiating ‘open skies’ agreements with a number of countries which should result in a growth in the number of long-haul point-to-point services and a reduction in wasteful and unnecessary connecting services.

“This could result in a dramatic change in how Heathrow is used over the coming years. In due course, it may become apparent that additional runways are not actually needed.”

On the issue of changes to the tax regime of the industry, Ray said:

“In our view, instead of having a blanket rate, APD should be proportional to the fare paid by the passenger. This would be a first step towards making APD a more efficient tax - for some passengers, this should mean a decrease in the amount of tax paid for a particular journey. I just don’t think we should be penalised for offering our customers great fares.

“It should also be noted that, at the current flat rate of £5, APD already represents a tax rate of over 110% on the fuel used on easyJet’s domestic air journeys - no other form of transport, including cars, pays that proportion of tax on its fuel.

“easyJet has long argued that APD should also be hypothecated to make it a real environmental tax. This would be along the lines of the polluter-pays principle whereby dirtier carriers are penalised whilst providing incentives for the cleaner and quieter ones. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that more can be done to improve the industry’s environmental performance. Going forward, easyJet wholeheartedly supports any concrete moves towards facilitating an emissions trading scheme for the industry. This is something we have called for and will continue to push at the UK and EU level. easyJet has always been prepared to pay for its environmental costs. We already operate one of the youngest and most modern fleet in the world. This, coupled with our high passenger loads, means that our noise and fuel emissions levels are significantly better than most airlines.”
——-