Flybe Chairman and Chief Executive, Jim French, has reiterated his previous-raised concerns by backing the views voiced today by four of other airlines ( British Airways, EasyJet, RyanAir and Virgin Atlantic) highlighting the troubling impact of Air Passenger Duty and the very real damage it is doing to the UK economy and to hard-pressed families.
In a direct message to the Chancellor Mr French backed up the other British airlines call to scrap the air travel taxes.
He said: “Domestic air travel has been hammered hard over the past four years. In 2007, APD was £5, a sum in line with that now being charged by several other European countries. Today, UK APD is £12 one way. The result? Four million less domestic air passengers travelling, equating to a 21% decrease in passenger numbers passing through the country’s regional airports.”
“I cannot stress enough that the success of regional aviation is crucial to regional development. In supporting commerce, industry and social mobility – not to mention much-needed employment.”
“The Scottish Office has recognised this for years in the Highlands and Islands. And indeed the UK Government itself has actually acknowledged that this harmful tax restricts air travel by lowering APD for the Continental airline service from Belfast International to Newark!”
“It is absolutely scandalous that the domestic passenger is being hit hardest in what Flybe has coined the ‘double-dip’ with UK, with domestic flyers being penalised by having to pay APD twice. This is because APD only applies to outbound flights from the UK so those flying abroad pay just once. “
APD was originally introduced as an environmental tax on air travel in 1994 but with the continue growth in passenger numbers it has also been an important source of revenue for the cash-strapped Treasury.
“How can this Government be serious about developing regional economies when they are taxing the industry out of existence? On the one hand they claim to be promoting regional airports by restricting the development of runways in the South East whilst at the same time penalising the industry through taxation the next.”
“Unlike every other form of transport, excepting bicycles, air travel is not subsidised; rail and bus travel is heavily subsidised. The aviation industry does not ask for billions of pounds of subsidy to buy new planes or build new airports. It pays for this itself. Air travel costs the UK tax payer nothing.”
The actual amount of tax paid depends on the destination and class of travel – economy, business or first class – but usually can add anything from £12 to £170 to the price of flights from the UK.
“Once again the Government is failing to appreciate the importance of regional transport links rather making ill-judged decisions to concentrate on a privileged rail system radiating out from London. What about the communities and business in those areas of the country where air travel is the only viable form of transport to go between A and B?”
“At a time when the country can ill afford to compromise economic growth, it is quite simply nonsensical for the Government to ignore the facts and not to publicly acknowledge that APD is severely impacting the viability of much-needed regional development.”
When the Air Passenger Duty was first introduced in 1994 the rates charged ranged from £5 to £40. Since then there has been a significant rise although not related to the actual cost of air travel.
Flybe is Europe’s largest and most successful regional airline with 194 routes serving 13 countries. The Exeter based airline operates from a total of 75 departure points, 38 UK and 37 European airports.
Flybe is also the UK’s Number One Domestic Airline operating more UK flights than any other airline: carrying more domestic passengers at London Gatwick than any other airline and operating over four times more domestic routes than any other airline.