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The definition of the word “tax” in the dictionary includes words such as “burden”, “encumbrance”, “strain”, “stress”, “drain” and “imposition” along with the obvious one we all know and hate.

It seems that Westminster, and specifically the Chancellor, are under further pressure to cut Air Passenger Duty in the Autumn Budget and this time that pressure is coming from the inside Parliament itself. I suppose politicians don’t often look at dictionaries unless they are looking for new words with which to bamboozle or impress their voting public. So they should consider that the words quoted above are all causing stress and imposition on an industry that has had enough of it.

The UK pays the highest tax in Europe, where short haul flights attract twice as much tax as Germany and Italy, and three times as much as France. More than 20 MPs, including support from the Northern Ireland and the DUP, are urging Chancellor Philip Hammond to cut APD by at least 50 per cent in his Budget when he whips out his red box at the end of October. However, it’s going to take a lot more than that to change something that only just had an increase in the April Budget.

All travel agents are being encouraged to write to their local MP before the deadline, to lobby for a decrease in Air Passenger Duty, or Air Departure Tax as it’s called in Scotland (we do like to be different), however our record of complaining, or lobbying in writing, to the right people, isn’t very good. The fact of the matter is that despite delving into surveys and research papers, APD does not appear to have put people off travelling. No government is willing to give up income which is as easily generated as APD, so we have to rely on some other arena to re-balance the lost revenue. Maybe the extraordinary increase that is being made in the pensions sector could be one answer to fill the gap to help lower APD, but not a realistic one.

We can always hope, but helping to nudge those people that matter isn’t a bad idea, because staying silent gets you nowhere!

Ken McLeod
President - SPAA
08/10/18