Ryanair teams up with major airlines to fight UK aviation tax
Ryanair's Michael O'Leary and British Airways' Willie Walsh have signed an open letter with the CEOs of Virgin and EasyJet to call on the British Government to axe Air Passenger Duty tax.
The airline chiefs urged the British Government to axe the Air Passenger Duty (APD airport departure tax), saying its negative impact on the UK economy was outweighing any benefit from the revenue raised.
In a letter to Chancellor George Osborne, they said passenger numbers at UK airports had fallen consecutively for the last three years to a level lower than 2004.
In 2010, there were 7.4 million fewer passengers in the UK while numbers using European airports grew by 66.3 million.
The bosses also highlighted the case of Holland, where an air tax scheme was abandoned after a year as its harmful effects on the Dutch economy were nearly four times greater than the revenue it produced.
The letter was signed by Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways parent company IAG; easyJet chief Carolyn McCall; Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary and Virgin Atlantic chief executive Steve Ridgway.
The chief executives challenged the Chancellor to commission an independent report on the true economic effects of aviation tax in Britain.
They said APD was doubled in 2007 and hiked again in each of the last two years and that the UK had the highest aviation taxes in the world.
The letter said: "For hard-working families, APD is a tax too far for the privilege of taking a well--earned holiday. It is also a tax on tourism and a tax on business.
"Aviation doesn't just drive exports - it is a major exporter in its own right with our airlines earning nearly £11 billion of foreign revenues every year. Tourism is one of the UK's most important earners and is worth £115 billion to the UK economy.
"We take our responsibility to the environment very seriously and have taken steps to reduce our impact. We support an emissions trading scheme (ETS) in principle but a combination of both APD and ETS when it is introduced is unsustainable."
Separately, a survey carried out by the airlines this week showed that 85% of those asked believe that aviation is important to the recovery of the UK economy and 77% believed APD was an unfair tax.