British MPs are becoming increasingly aware that changes to Air Passenger Duty could be either a vote winner or loser.
The most high-profile sign yet of opposition has been made this week by secretary of state for energy and climate change Ed Miliband, who hinted that the proposed increases in Air Passenger Duty (APD) will not curb mass air travel.
Miliband told The Guardian newspaper “If you made 80% cuts across the board, as some people call for on aviation, you would go back to 1974 levels of flying. People in my constituency have benefited from foreign travel which, 40 years ago, the middle classes took for granted.”
The tax increase and new four-band system will come into effect in November, and the tax is due to rise again to £75 in November 2010.
The proposed changes have met with vehement opposition from within the industry. The Caribbean Tourism Organisation has led the objections, and is calling on the travel industry to write to their local MPs to ask for an explanation for the increases.
CTO Marketing Director Carol Hay said an Early Day Motion – a formal motion submitted by MPs for debate in the House of Commons – supporting the growing ground swell among parliament.
The Early Day Motion calls for the government to base APD on the level of carbon emissions produced by flights rather than “arbitrary zones based on location of a country’s capital city”.
Hay said: “In an ideal world, we would like APD to be scrapped, but realistically we would like to see the Caribbean have parity with the US.”
Jamaica’s Minister for Tourism, Bartlett (pictured above) says it places destinations like the Caribbean at a disadvantage. He described the regime as unfair and will undermine Jamaican and Caribbean tourism and is “not the least bit green”.
“The structure of APD as an environmental tax, suggests that the impact of a flight to Jamaica or Barbados is greater than one to Miami, Los Angeles or Honolulu. Why should Caribbean countries with relatively low emissions suffer the effects of an environmental tax, in favour of the world’s biggest polluter?” he questioned.
The revised tax places long haul destinations like Jamaica in one of the highest bands, with economy class passengers facing a tax of £50 per ticket as of November 2009, and the amount increasing to £75 in 2010. The proposed tax for premium economy, business, and first class tickets, will be double this amount.