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15 June 2012 | Adam Leach
Travel buyers should get their companies to join together and lobby the UK government over the current rate of Air Passenger Duty (APD) and any future increases, according to British Airways' commercial director.
Speaking during a debate at Business Travel Market 2012 on Wednesday, Drew Crawley, commercial director at British Airways, told the audience the charge was “suffocating jobs and suffocating growth”. He highlighted the UK has the highest rate out of the five EU countries that have the duty.
Since 2006, APD, which was originally implemented as an environmental measure to hold airlines to account on their emissions, has increased by about 360 per cent with the latest rise coming in last year’s budget.
Crawley called on buyers to pull together and lobby the government to carry out an independent review into whether the existence of APD benefits the economy. “You need to make sure your voices are heard. We have not done a good job as an industry in coalescing on this issue. You should lobby for an independent review into APD and get your companies and organisations to lobby against the next increase,” he said.
Bill Brindle, group distribution and technology director at travel management firm HRG, agreed APD had a negative impact on the UK travel industry and explained it was driving people to look at other transport hubs. “We have clients who actively look to what’s cheapest on a tax basis. You’re therefore not checking fares for the fare’s sake but where has the cheapest tax rates,” he said.
Crawley explained British Airways supported the principle of the emissions trading scheme but wanted to see it operate on a level playing field, highlighting that countries such as Russia and China have so far shown little sign of complying. “If European airlines end up paying and others don’t, that is not the right solution.”