Two main UK political parties pledge to replace APD with per-plane tax

15.4.2010   (Green Air Online)

Ahead of a UK general election on May 6, the two main opposition parties have
said they will replace Air Passenger Duty (APD) – a revenue-raising tax with ‘green
signals’ – with a per-plane tax. The change had been previously mooted by the
present Government in a 2008 consultation but was eventually rejected. In its
manifesto, the opposition Conservative Party said it would "reform APD to encourage
a switch to fuller and cleaner planes".  

The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto calls for the introduction of a higher rate
of per plane  duty for domestic flights  "for which alternative and less polluting
travel is readily available" and plans to raise £3 billion ($4.6bn) per year from
the tax.
Both parties have repeated a commitment to reject plans for additional runways
at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.
Although APD is not a popular tax with the airline or tourism industries, it
does exclude air freight and transfer passengers hubbing through UK airports,
so favouring the larger international carriers. As they benefit from neither of
these, but have higher load factors, the low-cost airlines, on the other hand,
will be encouraged by a potential switch to a per-plane tax.
EasyJet CEO Andy Harrison said: "We welcome the Conservatives’ promise to reform
the UK’s daft air tax. A tax that forces families to subsidize private jets, cargo
planes and 20 million foreign transfer passengers per year is way past its sell-by
"From an environmental perspective, APD gives a perverse incentive – full planes
pay the highest tax whilst empty ones pay no tax at all.  We need to make air
tax greener and fairer now. It should be reformed from a poll tax into a flight
tax that taxes emissions, not families."
The pledge was also welcomed by the European Low Fares Airline Association (ELFAA),
whose 10 members carry over 160 million passengers a year and account for over
35% of scheduled intra-European traffic.
"We commend this move by the Conservatives to reform what is essentially an unjust
tax on UK consumers," said the Secretary-General of ELFAA, John Hanlon. "In its
current form the APD commits the dual sin of burning a hole in the pockets of
British families whilst simultaneously hampering the overall competitiveness of
the UK’s aviation sector.
"The UK Government itself acknowledged last year that aviation, before being
included in the EU ETS, is already more than covering its environmental costs.
Hence any additional measures in this area should not result in extra outlay for
an industry which is ready and willing to play its part in reviving the UK’s flagging
ELFAA called for the withdrawal of APD altogether once aviation enters the EU
Emissions Trading Scheme from 2012.
The UK Government substantially increased APD rates in November 2009 and plans
further increases, if returned to power, in November 2010. APD raises around £1.9
billion ($2.9bn) per year.
However, the Liberal Democrats plan to raise an annual £3 billion ($4.6bn) from
its revised per-plane duty to help reduce the UK deficit and to fund income tax
reforms to help the lower paid.
A spokesman for the Liberal Democrats told the BBC that its switch to a per-plane
duty would provide an incentive for airlines to fill their planes. He conceded
it would have an adverse effect on the amount of taxes airlines paid but it was
"a fair and justifiable way of reducing environmental pollution."
The Conservative manifesto also re-iterated the party’s policy to scrap plans
for a third runway at London Heathrow Airport and second runways at Stansted and
Gatwick airports.
It also said would begin work "immediately" on a high-speed rail line connecting
London to Heathrow and on to the north of England with construction starting in
2015. This would be followed by a second stage that delivered lines to north-east
England, Scotland and Wales.
The incumbent ruling Labour Party said in its manifesto: "We support a third
runway at Heathrow, subject to strict conditions  on environmental impact and flight
numbers, but we will not allow additional runways at any other airport in the
next Parliament."
The Conservative Party are currently ahead in the opinion polls but there is
a likelihood of a ‘hung’ Parliament with no outright winner. It is therefore possible
either the Conservative or Labour parties will be forced to enter into a coalition
with the Liberal Democrats in order to gain power after the election.
See   also

Liberal Democrats launch Manifesto including policies on aviation

Date Added: 14th April 2010

This acknowleges that emissions from rising aviation are a problem but some flights
are vital and some benefit the economy. Lib Dems would try to ensure people use
alternatives where possible. They would replace the per-passenger APD with per-plane
duty (PPD), so capturing air freight for the first time. Also a higher rate of
PPD on domestic flights for which there are alternatives, and cancel the 3rd runway
at Heathrow and any expansion of other airports in the South East.

Click here to view full story…


Environmental policies the green NGOs want in the next government

Date Added: 12th April 2010

The main green organisations have put together their key policy demands. A 40%
CO2 cut onb 1990 by 2020 is a key shared demand. Greenpeace says we need policy
to limit climate changing pollution from aviation growth. Also the UK needs a
commitment to reverse the decision to build a 3rd runway at Heathrow within the
first 100 days in office and to freeze regional airport expansion, which would
show that the Climate Change Act will be taken seriously and enforced properly.

Click here to view full story…


Labour party manifesto backs Heathrow 3rd runway but no other new runways

Date Added: 12th April 2010

Labour’s manifesto is out. It says: Heathrow is Britain’s international hub airport,
already operating at full capacity, and supporting millions of jobs, businesses
and citizens who depend upon it. We support a third runway at Heathrow, subject
to strict conditions on environmental impact and flight numbers, but we will not
allow additional runways to proceed at any other airport in the next Parliament.

Click here to view full story…


Has David Cameron gone soft on the Tories’ ‘tough’ green measures?

Date Added: 10th April 2010

Is David Cameron really up to speed on the Conservative party’s green policies,
which in places are very impressive? In an interview on Radio 4 on 9th April,
Cameron did not mention Heathrow, or nuclear power, or carbon emission limits
for coal power stations, which are all vital green issues. Did he reckon these
things were “too difficult” or just did not think of them? He did offer support
for increases in APD, rises in landfill tax and better insulation.

Click here to view full story…