A Kent airport boss has backed a campaign to stop holidays becoming even more expensive for jet-setting Brits. Charles Buchanan, chief executive of Kent International Airport, wants the government to ground any plans for a further rise in air passenger duty in next month’s Budget. British holidaymakers already pay more flight tax than anywhere else in Europe.
According to the travel organisation ABTA, a family of four flying from the UK to Australia pay £340 in flight tax, compared to just £11 for an Irish family. It says the government has increased air passenger duty by 2,600% since 1994. Mr Buchanan said:
“If someone from overseas wants to visit the UK and they’re confronted with flight taxes that are eight times higher than they are in places like France or Germany, it’s clearly not going to help attract those people into this country. Tourism is such a vital part of the economy. We have the Open golf championship this year and the Olympic Games in 2012, not to mention the whole range of visitor attractions, hotels, bars and restaurants that depend on income from tourists, so bringing more visitors into the area can only be a good thing.”
According to ABTA, the government will earn £2.2 billion from air passenger duty paid by holidaymakers and business travellers in 2011. This could increase to £3.6 billion within five years. Mr Buchanan has called for a “level playing field” but warned:
“We don’t think the government will reduce air passenger duty in the current economic climate, so our campaign won’t make family holidays any cheaper. However, it could stop them becoming more expensive.”
ABTA’s Fair Tax on Flying campaign, launched earlier this month, already has more than 1,000 supporters on Facebook. The campaign is backed by major airlines including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, travel agencies such as Thomas Cook and TUI Travel and airports operator BAA.
kentonline 14th Mar 2011