International Airlines Group (IAG) has said the UK’s Air Passenger Duty (APD) charges are reducing the chances of its new low-cost long-haul airline Level flying from the country.

The group says it wants to expand Level – which launched flights from Barcelona to the US and Latin America last year and will fly from Paris to the Caribbean and North America starting in July. However, in a letter to MPs, IAG warned that operations in cities such as Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Manchester are “not financially viable when Level’s fares start around £88 one way and long-haul economy APD is £78.”

Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG, commented: “British consumers are losing out because of APD. In Spain and France, Level can offer lower fares than it can in the UK – and that goes for other long-haul low-cost airlines too.

“MPs need to know that APD undermines our ability to introduce new low-cost flights that would benefit their constituents. If APD was axed, IAG could open new routes and operate Level from regional airports.”

In the letter, IAG echoes numerous calls to reconsider a hike in APD for business-class seats announced in the autumn budget, saying it will be a mistake to “tax aviation so harshly” in a post-Brexit UK where businesses will need to develop international connections.

Walsh added: “…it’s clear the chancellor doesn’t understand that Britain is losing out to countries that don’t have draconian aviation taxes.”

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