The rise in UK Air Passenger Duty (APD) could see holiday firms scrapping premium economy because the seating is charged the same levy as first and business class.
The APD is set to increase to as much as £55 a seat this November on some long haul flights, making unviable for many tour operators and airlines to continue offering this option.
(Above: On the campaign trail against APD - Jamaica’s Minister for Tourism, Edmund Bartlett) One leading travel group said: “It’s absurd. It just doesn’t seem right that a levy should dictate how passengers travel but it does.”
Concern over the APD comes as the Transport Secretary, Lord Adonis, considers the travel industry’s response to plans to increase the APC [Atol passenger contribution] from £1 to £3 from October.
The Civil Aviation Authority argues the increase is needed to eliminate a deficit in the Air Travel Trust Fund, which was hit by the collapse of XL Leisure last year.
The proposed changes have met with vehement opposition from within the industry. The Caribbean Tourism Organisation, for example, has been particularly vocal, highlighting how it will harm. Caribbean tourism.
Jamaica’s Minister for Tourism, Bartlett says it places destinations like Jamaica 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.
According to the Tourism Minister, the changes will have a major effect on tourism to the Caribbean, thereby impacting the economies of the region and travel by members of the United Kingdom Caribbean Diaspora.
Minister Bartlett and Director of Tourism, John Lynch, met with MPs in London earlier this month to discuss the impact of the increase in APD on the travel industry.
Director of the Caribbean Council, David Jessop, welcomed Minister Bartlett’s visit to the capital. He said: “We need leaders such as Minister Bartlett to forge the way by lobbying the British Government on APD. Change will not occur unless the Caribbean speaks with a united voice and we applaud the Minister’s conviction and the passion with which he seeks to effect change.”
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.