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Holiday companies, airlines join to fight airport duty increases

Airlines and major travel firms are joining with travellers in an anti-government campaign to fight further increases in airport duty.

Holidaymakers and business travellers are being invited to join a Facebook protest as part of an ongoing campaign linking airlines and travel companies against further airport tax increases. The protests, being led by ABTA and including British Airways and BAA, are starting with a letter to Chancellor George Osborne in advance of this month’s budget.

Stating airport taxes have increased 26-fold since 1994, with fears providers of long-haul, Caribbean, US and Asia flights and holidays will suffer severely as families find themselves no longer willing or able to bear the extra taxes. According to the organisations concerned, UK travellers pay the most flight tax in the whole of Europe, with the average family of four holidaying in Florida now being charged £240, while the tax on their flight to Australia comes in at a staggering £340. An Irish or French family holidaying at the same destination would pay £11 and £15 respectively.
 
Aviation tax, according to ABTA boss Mark Tanzer, is now a punitive stealth tax affecting businesses across the tourism sector from airlines to large and small travel companies. The UK airline industry, he notes, is one of the most heavily taxed worldwide, with any further increases set to damage the UK’s economic recovery.

Surveys show at least 63 per cent of travellers believe airport duty is far too high, with the fall in longer-haul holiday bookings confirming the travelling public have had enough. BAA are also pushing for visa regulations on temporary visitors to be eased and made more visitor-friendly. It considers Britain is in danger of pricing itself out of the potentially lucrative markets of fast-developing tourism in India and China.

Airlines are in favour of a per-place tax, resulting in passengers paying less, with the shortfall being taken up by private flights, freight flights and foreign transfer passengers being drawn into the tax net.

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