Posted on: 18 October 2011 by Mark Howells
In a speech to the British Air Transport Association (BATA) Annual Parliamentary Reception, Andrew Strong, managing director Flybe UK, emphasised to more than 50 MPs that aviation can help drive the recovery needed by UK regional economies but needs governmental help to reform Air Passenger Duty (APD).
“Those of us lucky enough to live and work outside of London are fully behind the government’s policy to geographically re-balance the economy and I believe that regional aviation can play a crucial role,” Strong remarked. “In 2010, some 86 million people flew from regional airports. They represent a powerful body of passengers who do not want to travel to London to catch a flight.
“In short, they are people in your constituencies, winning contracts and keeping regional economies ticking over in these difficult times,” he reminded his audience.
Strong pointed out that the domestic passenger gets hit particularly hard by the current structure of APD. “At present, the domestic passenger suffers what has been coined the ‘double-dip’ where UK domestic flyers pay APD twice and those flying abroad pay just once. This is because APD only applies to flights departing a UK airport.
“It is frankly scandalous that a return passenger travelling between Glasgow and Belfast City, some 100 miles, pays double the tax of someone flying between Glasgow and Dalaman in Eastern Turkey, a flight of more than 2,000 miles,” he cited.
In conclusion, Strong warned the MPs, “Be under no illusion – APD damages the UK economy. That’s why regional airports and airlines welcome the Chancellor’s decision to reduce the APD paid by passengers travelling from Belfast International to Newark on the Continental service. It is a clear acknowledgement that tax affects the viability of air services and we look forward to hearing the Treasury’s plans for the rest of the UK. Aviation is a British success story and we need government’s help to keep it that way.”