THE UK travel industry has failed in its bid to persuade the government to scrap another hike in Air Passenger Duty which comes into force on Monday.
While the APD on shorthaul flights to destinations like the Balearics will be a reduced rate of 12 pounds or the standard rate of 24 pounds, those flying further afield could be facing huge increases and it appears that very few passengers are fully aware of the new APD rates.
Research by the Association of British Travel Agents which mounted a massive campaign to try and have the APD frozen or, at best scrapped, has found that two thirds (nearly 70%) of consumers do not know how much tax they are paying on a flight. This means that the majority of customers are unaware of the full extent of the large sums they are contributing to the Exchequer every time they set foot on a plane in the UK.
The Government increases in aviation tax have been hidden behind the overall price of an airline ticket and so it is harder for increases to be understood by the travelling public.
ABTA is warning that the impact of the government's new flying stealth tax will soon become clear as many families will find themselves priced out of taking a foreign holiday or visiting their relatives overseas.
Successive governments have for too long justified hiking APD as a green tax whilst never putting a penny of the billions of pounds collected towards helping the environment.
Savvy travellers are cynical about Government motivation with ABTA research finding that 90% of consumers are sceptical about the environmental justification behind the flying poll tax.
Mark Tanzer ABTA Chief Executive said: For too long our customers have been taken advantage of with successive governments seeing flying as a convenient cash cow. These latest huge increases in APD will disproportionately affect families on tight budgets when they are under considerable financial pressure. Increasing taxes will make taking holidays and visiting friends and relatives unaffordable for many. Not only is this tax increase pricing people out of taking holidays it also is putting the UK at a clear competitive disadvantage when compared to our European competitors.
ABTA is calling on the Government to call a halt to their planned tax rises that will see this flying tax double in the next five years and adopt a fairer tax system that will encourage real environmental improvements in air travel. The government will continue to hike air taxes unless there is a public outcry and ABTA is calling on holiday makers who will be paying more for their flights from Monday to make their views known to their MP and stop further increases in this flying poll tax. The Dutch Government, one of the very few to tax flying in this way, axed their version of APD in 2008 as they concluded that the damage to their economy vastly outweighed any revenue raised by the tax.