First Choice has confirmed that its carbon-offsetting scheme will go ahead as planned in the Spring, but that the company will only be matching £1 for £1 donations for holidays departing after November 2007.The company announced last month that it would be introducing an ‘opt-out’
scheme in which customers would be encouraged to pay £1 (50 pence for
children) and the company would match the contributions.
However, following the announcement by the Government that they are
doubling APD from 1 February 2007 and that tour operators are expected to
retrospectively pay the tax for existing bookings, the company put the
scheme on hold while it reviewed its position.
Dermot Blastland, Managing Director, First Choice Mainstream Sector
commented “We have found ourselves in a ludicrous situation. We planned to
introduce a scheme whereby the payments made by our customers and matched
by First Choice would go into certified carbon offsetting schemes. These
would negate a significant amount of the carbon offset by First Choice
Airways. Instead this ridiculous tax, which will not be used for any
environmental projects, has been imposed and has meant our plans have had
to be delayed.
We continue to support a sensible structured approach to carbon trading or
off-setting. However, as a company we are expected to pay the Government
between £4-5 million in retrospective APD. Regrettably, this means that we won’t be able to start matching customers’ payments on Summer 2007
First Choice Mainstream customers will generate £21,000,000 for the
Government, yet the company estimates the total cost of offsetting
emissions by First Choice customers is £7 million. The company has
confirmed that should the Government change its mind and not charge the tax
retrospectively, it will start matching £1 for £1 on all bookings as
The company is working with Climate Care to identify suitable certified
projects for the scheme and further details will be announced in the New
In a separate project, the company is also continuing with its plans to be
a launch partner of coolearth.org and will be investing in 2,000 hectares
of rainforests that would otherwise be utilised for illegal logging, monoculture or beef cattle ranching.