By James Wilkinson
The UK government is coming under fire for its ‘green’ decision to raise departure taxes from British Airports by up to $400.
Visits to Britain could fall in 2009 from a doubling in
departure tax for flights to Austrlaia and New Zealand
The current British air passenger duty for economy passengers of £40 ($95*) for long haul travel is set to increase to £60 ($142) from November 1, 2009, and then to £85 ($201) in 2010.
Premium passengers will be hit the hardest, with the duty set to increase to £170 ($403) in 2010, with airlines expected to apss the cost on to passegers.
The tax is being introduced by British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alastair Darling, as a move to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
But Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) interim president and CEO, Brian Deeson, said decision was short-sighted and self-defeating.
“At a time when the travel and tourism industry is facing an unprecedented threat to long term financial stability, we see a government in Europe imposing tax increases. [This poses] a real threat to jobs and businesses — not only in the UK but in destinations across the Asia Pacific region,” Deeson said.
“PATA is an organisation committed totally to sustainable development in travel and tourism (and) this move by the UK government is simply about increasing revenues for the state under the very dubious cover of consolidating its green credentials.
“Ironically, this is a move by the British government that could easily backfire. Travellers seeking value on long-haul routes may now choose an airport in mainland Europe as their principal point of entry and exit.
“We’re happy to pay our fair share, but these latest tax increases are a disproportionate burden for our industry to bear.”
The news of the duty increases comes as Air Asia X prepares to fly to London from Kuala Lumpur for just $260 one-way including taxes and charges.
*Australian dollars quoted at Wednesday November 27 exchange rate.