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WTTC rues ‘missed opportunity’ over APD

World Travel & Tourism Council president David Scowsill has branded a British government decision not to restructure Air Passenger Duty a “missed opportunity”.

Scowsill was speaking after confirmation earlier from chancellor George Osborne the levy would not be altered ahead of a planned ten per cent increase in April next year.

“Air Passenger Duty has always been a blunt instrument and a bad tax,” Scowsill said.

“Whether in its current per-passenger form or as a per-plane version, it is bad for the consumer and bad for the international competitiveness of UK plc.

“APD does not go towards any aviation or transport projects; it provides no incentive for airlines to operate newer, cleaner aircraft or for the consumer to choose ‘greener’ options.

“A bad tax was made even worse in 2009 with its discriminatory distance-based approach to long-haul destinations – for example, the Caribbean is closer to the UK than the US West Coast yet it is in a higher band,” he added.

The WTTC chief went on to urge the UK to learn from neighbouring countries such as the Netherlands which have repealed a $412 million departure tax because it cost the economy $1.6 billion.

According to the Treasury’s own consultation, aviation creates over 250,000 jobs directly and supports an estimated 200,000 through the supply chain.

“It is also a principal artery for the wider travel and tourism industry which contributes £105 billion, or around seven per cent of UK GDP and supports 2.3 million jobs,” added Scowsill.

“It is time for a full cost/benefit analysis of APD to be undertaken to measure its contribution to the UK taxman against its damage to the wider UK economy in terms of job, competitiveness and GDP contribution.”

The call echoed that of chief executives of International Airlines Group, Virgin Atlantic, easyJet and Ryanair who all called on the government to re-examine the issue earlier.