Chief executives from the UK’s largest four airline surged the Chancellor George Osborne to scrap Air Passenger Duty today in a joint pledge. easyJet’s Carolyn McCall, IAG’s Willie Walsh, Virgin Atlantic’s Steve Ridgway and Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary put aside their differences to sign a letter encouraging Osborne to launch an independent inquiry into the damaging impact of APD today.
“Government should find out how APD affects the economy,take stock of where the economy has been and see the damage is has caused,”said McCall. “APD is a tax on consumers, not airlines”.
O’Leary warned that flights or capacity from the UK could be cut if the impending APD increases come into effect, on top of ETS. “We would cut seats if APD is not dropped and more flights would head from continental Europe,” said O’Leary.
“We all have the opportunity to grow outside of the UK where they value aviation and growth,so this tax is more damaging to the UK than airlines,” added Walsh.
Passenger numbers in European airports are said to have increased by 66 million in recent years while the UK has seen a 7.4 million drop. APD is also said to be pushing business away from the UK after it was revealed that six million fewer businessmen travel here and of the three million tourists heading to Europe only 200,000 come to the UK.
On the other hand, an abolition of APD would stimulate more flights and capacity from the UK and is likely to drive prices down for consumers. “Families are entitled to [an overseas] holiday and to travel – it is a positive experience and we don’t see why it should be discouraged,” added Walsh.
The four also ruled out that a reduction in the tax would be enough, adding that they would not allow politicians to break its commitment to scrapping the tax. It was argued that although APD generates