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EasyJet Demands Rethink Of UK Aviation Taxes

by Jason Gorringe,, London

20 September 2007

UK budget airline EasyJet has demanded a more intelligent approach to the environmental taxation of the aviation industry, arguing that the government's policies penalise the flying public while doing nothing to reduce actual aircraft emissions.

"There is no doubt that climate change is a real and imminent danger which should be a concern for us all," EasyJet said in a recent statement. However, it went on to add that much of the recent political debate "has been characterised by gesture politics and discriminatory, often contradictory proposals".

EasyJet, which has faced its fair share of blame for the increase in air travel by offering cheap flights all over Europe, argues that taxing passengers is not the answer to the problem of tackling pollution in the aviation industry, and is urging the government to scrap the contentious and unpopular Air Passenger Duty.

"We are an island nation in a globalised economy yet the UK already taxes flying more heavily than any other European country while making high-speed rail available only to those living in the South East," the airline observed. "The time has come to scrap APD air tax and move the burden of taxation from passengers to aircraft emissions. Taxing families but not private jets is a grotesque insult."

APD was increased by then Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown in the 2006 pre-Budget report. As a result, economy and first class flights from the UK to Europe now face an APD charge of GBP10 and GBP20 respectively, while long haul economy passengers now pay a duty of GBP40, and business travellers GBP80.

This measure was intended by Brown as an environmental tax aimed at reducing short-haul flights. But EasyJet says that it is time for the government to take "a more intelligent approach to flying".

"Politicians must incentivise consumers to take the greener option when it is available - this means banning the dirty, old aircraft from our skies; getting the right tax regime in place to reward cleaner behaviour; being realistic about the value of aviation and resisting the temptation to advocate alternatives when no such alternatives exist," the airline stated.

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