Industry body ABTA has urged its members and the wider travel industry to write to their MPs with a case for introducing a cut to Air Passenger Duty (APD) in the autumn budget, which is due to be published next Monday.
The UK currently has one of the highest rates of APD in the world, and the highest in Europe. UK travellers pay double the tax paid by their counterparts in Germany.
Campaign groups including A Fair Tax on Flying – of which ABTA is a founding member – rallied together with airports, airlines and industry associations to demand a reduction in last year’s budget, but chancellor Philip Hammond instead froze rates for all short-haul tickets and long-haul economy fares and increased the tax on premium economy, business and first class fares by £16, drawing criticism from the industry.
In March, the UK Treasury opened a consultation on the impact of APD and Value Added Tax (VAT) on the travel industry, but the focus of the investigation was on Northern Ireland, where APD on departing long-haul flights was set at £0 in 2013.
With research by Frontier Economics for Airlines UK showing the country is potentially missing out on 66 new routes due to the high rate of APD, ABTA is once again calling on the government to reconsider the tax.
ABTA says the campaign already has the backing of high-profile MPs such as Priti Patel and Sir Graham Brady.
The association believes a 50 per cent reduction in APD could deliver economic benefits.
Luke Petherbridge, senior public affairs manager at ABTA, said: “This budget is an opportunity for government to support holidaymakers and business travellers, as well as sending a strong message that Britain in open for business by cutting APD.
“We strongly welcome the many steps taken in recent years to reduce the overall burden of APD on UK consumers and businesses – including removing bands C and D, and the abolition of child APD, and more recently the freeze on economy flights across both bands. But we still have one of the highest aviation taxes in the world which is a barrier to new routes and expensive for travellers.
“It’s important MPs understand the negative impact of such a high level of APD. The industry can help make the case by getting behind the Fair Tax on Flying campaign and contacting MPs.”