8 JUNE 2009

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Article from BTNews 8 JUNE 2009

COMMENT: Air France and APD

Sadly, in the last week there has been an aircraft lost with the loss of all souls on board.  The accident is the worst aircraft loss of life since 2001. It is not AERBT's intention to say any more but only that our thoughts are with those families and friends who have lost loved ones.

Now on to Air Passenger Duty, it should by now be apparent to those in government that Air Passenger Duty – APD is really not liked by the airlines and is just another un-necessary tax that the travelling public has to bear at a time when that same government should be trying to help airlines survive the recession that we and other countries are facing. 

Again at the same time legacy carriers from each country should be at the front of a crowd of interested parties pushing and persuading the UK government to remove this un-wanted tax. 

ABTA is to lead a summer campaign to make holidaymakers aware of rising air passenger duty charges.

Among measures being considered as part of the campaign are handing out leaflets on aircraft and including them in holiday documents.  The leaflets would highlight the increases in APD and encourage people to put pressure on their local MPs to scrap them.

ABTA and other industry leaders have accepted that it is a fruitless task directly approaching MPs to drop the charges when they are currently embroiled in an expenses fiasco, the country is heavily in debt and many want to be seen to support environmental policies.  But they feel that the campaign may be successful if constituents put pressure on local MPs to drop the charges, particularly in marginal seats where MPs will need all the support they can get.

APD currently costs from UKP10 to UKP80, depending upon seat class and destination.  From 1 November 2009,  there will be four bands of APD, depending on mileage and those in economy will pay from UKP11 to UKP55, with people travelling in anything other than the lowest class of travel paying from UKP22 to UKP110.

From 1 November 2010, the fares will rise again.  Anyone travelling for example to Australia in anything other than economy will pay an APD of UKP170.

Andy Cooper, Development Director at ABTA, attended a round-table discussion with around 20 other members of the industry this week, and is drawing up a policy document which will detail the action to be taken.

“We have not finalised our plans yet, but we know we are pushing against the tide if we go direct to MPs,” he said.

“But if we can highlight the issue to the public and encourage them to write to their MPs, that might be more successful.  Most people are not really aware of the changes and how much they will have to pay.

“We believe that the rates should stay as they are to reflect the environmental impact of flying.”

Where is British Airways in this campaign?  Our national carrier should be leading and helping ABTA in the fight to get this un-wanted tax scrapped.  If the travelling public don’t have to pay this duty it will make flying a little more affordable and help to fill up British Airways planes helping the airline make profits.  The US online travel agents realise that one way to help increase sales of air tickets is to waive their booking fees, why aren’t we doing more to get an un-wanted tax scrapped that could help get people flying again?

 

Terry Spruce

Guest Editor

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