15 OCTOBER 2012

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Article from BTNews 15 OCTOBER 2012

COMMENT: APD campaign destroys Heathrow myth

A campaign by a well organised aviation group seems to have destroyed once and for all the notion that residents of the Heathrow conurbation are against the airport.

Press outlets are continuously being inundated by minority groups, and local councils with their own axe to grind, on the evils of the airport, often with numbers and facts that cannot be substantiated.  These are printed and announced by the media as if fact.

Now a drive by the lobby group A Fair Tax on Flying on the unfairness of Air Passenger Duty (APD) has resulted in a huge number of emails to MPs, the vast majority in the London area.

Adam Afriyie MP for Windsor, very much on the Heathrow flight path, received the most, followed by Mark Field (Westminster) and Gregg Hands (Chelsea and Fulham).  Justine Greening (Putney), the former Transport Minister, and vociferous in her objection to the third runway, does not seem to have published the number of emails in her in-box.

Conservative MPs have received 116,071 emails, Labour MPs 55,701 and Lib Dems 17,507.  Overall, organisers say that, nationally, over 200,000 people have emailed their MP, and a further 80,000 non-UK residents have emailed the Treasury in one of the biggest social media campaigns ever co-ordinated. 

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association, said: “It’s simply incredible that so many constituents have decided to express to MPs their concern about the UK having the highest levels of Air Passenger Duty in the world. The Prime Minister’s in-tray now contains nearly 500 messages about the ‘A Fair Tax on Flying’ initiative, and many Cabinet Ministers and MPs have received over 1,000 emails each.  It is clear that aviation tax is now a postbag issue for politicians all over the country, and that the Government should respond to the campaign by commissioning research into the impact these eye-wateringly high levels of APD are having on the wider UK economy”. 

The Business Travel News' view is very simple.  APD, if it has to be, should be on mileage and not the capital city.  In order to stimulate the UK economy there should be no tax on domestic flights (currently customers pay twice – there and back – it is cheaper to do business or weekend abroad).  And in a utopian world opposers to any airport should be put on an air transport black list.  Years ago a high profile protester against Concorde had to take the QE2 to New York in order to gain some American attention for banning the aircraft into JFK.  No airline would fly him. 

He failed in his remonstration.

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