Anti-APD campaign wastes no time in lobbying new shadow minister, Lilian Greenwood

After the resignation of Jim FitzPatrick as a Labour opposition transport spokesman on 29th August over Syria, his shadow aviation responsibilities have been taken over by Lilian Greenwood (MP for Nottingham South). The aviation industry has lost no time in lobbying her on Air Passenger Duty. British Air Transport Association (BATA) say her new role “offers an ideal opportunity for the opposition to put pressure on the government between now and the next election to review the impact of APD on the UK economy.” While APD does no harm the  UK economy, it has a very slight impact on demand for air tickets (it is only £13 for a return flight to anywhere in Europe), so the aviation industry is deeply opposed. All the lobbying ignores the fact that the Treasury charges APD because air travel pays no VAT and aviation does not pay fuel duty. People on internal return flights within the UK pay £26 in APD as each  part of the trip is charged. Scotland has long lobbied to get  APD devolved to the Scottish Government, with businesses campaigning to get APD removed. .


APD lobby group to press home case with Labour

By Phil Davies (Travel Weekly)

10 September 2013

APD lobby group to press home case with LabourLobby group A Fair Tax on Flying is urging Labour to exert more pressure on the government over Air Passenger Duty.

The call came as shadow transport minister Lillian Greenwood had her role expanded to include aviation as well as rail.

British Air Transport Association chief executive Simon Buck said: “Lilian Greenwood MP’s new responsibility for aviation policy on Labour’s front bench offers an ideal opportunity for the opposition to put pressure on the government between now and the next election to review the impact of Air Passenger Duty on the UK economy.

“It is timely to re-focus the debate on the damage caused by Air Passenger Duty and expose the flaws in the government’s current approach.”

The government plans year-on-year rises in APD despite the growing body of evidence that suggests that reduction or abolition could deliver “significant economic benefits,” he added.

“We look forward to working closely with Ms Greenwood to ensure that the Opposition is fully apprised of all the facts about APD and supports calls from over 100 MPs for a Treasury review of APD – something for which our campaign has long been calling,” Buck said.

The campaign confirmed that more than 425 UK business leaders have now signed a petition calling for a review of APD, citing the negative effect it is having on businesses.




Jim Fitzpatrick (Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse) resigned from his front bench role as shadow transport spokesman on 29th August 2013 in order to vote against both Labour and Government motions on the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

9th September – Shadow Transport Minister @LilianGreenwood adds aviation to her existing responsibility for rail within Labour’s front-bench team.



The Daily Record continues the campaign :

Joan McAlpine: Unfair UK air tax is stopping Scottish economy from taking off

JOAN says Airport Passenger Duty is a tax designed for an English problem that is now holding Scotland back.

An empty Glasgow Airport

An empty Glasgow Airport

IT has been the summer that gave new meaning to the term home baking. Montrose was as sultry as Marbella and sunstroke was a real and present danger on the Costa del Clyde.

But Scots who paid through the nose for sunshine holidays are less than chuffed about the good fortune of staycationers.

Who wants to come back from a pricey fortnight in Tenerife to find the next door neighbour beautifully bronzed from walking the dog on Ayr beach?

Foreign travel from Scotland already costs a packet because of the lack of direct flights and whopping air passenger duty (APD).   [In reality, APD costs all of £13 per passenger for a trip to a  European country – and their trip pays no fuel duty and no VAT.      AW].

The UK has the highest airline tax in the world and Scots have to pay APD twice if they change in London, as we do far too frequently. [True – APD is £13 x 2 for flights within the UK as each half of the journey pays £13 APD.   AW ]

It’s set to get worse with another hike next April when a family of four travelling to Florida will shell out £260 in APD tax – above the cost of flights. [That means APD costs only £67 to Florida now, and will rise by the rate of inflation in April 2014 to £69 per person. Details. Again, there is no fuel duty charged on flights, and no VAT, so the cost of flying is still substantially subsidised.   AW]

The UK now has the highest level of APD in the world.  [Many other countries  have similar charges, with different names, though the charges in the UK are one of the largest].  It is less of a concern at congested airports such as Heathrow but in Scotland, where we need more not fewer international connections, it’s a disaster.

The crippling level of APD also harms trade [APD is per passenger, not on cargo] and hits jobs as so much cargo is now transported by air. [Much of the long haul cargo travels as belly freight in passenger aircraft, especially at Heathrow].

A study by accountants Price Waterhouse Coopers earlier this year said abolishing APD would boost exports by five per cent and create 60,000 jobs in three years. [It also chose to ignore the reasons why APD is charged, and the losses to the  UK economy by encouraging cheap holiday flights abroad. The study was commissioned by airlines, one of which PWC works as auditor for – EasyJet.  So the report was not independent. Details ].

Another independent report from York Aviation, commissioned by Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports, found that keeping APD at current levels would lose Scotland two million passengers and £210million a year by 2016.   [York Aviation’s reports are always very biased towards the aviation industry’s  point of view, and ignore any inconvenient facts. Details ].

Westminster, who set and collect all Scottish taxes including APD, have ignored pleas to reduce and abolish it.  [Because without APD the industry would be largely untaxed, and there is little logic in permitting discretionary travel for leisure and pleasure purposes to pay no tax, when every other sector has to pay.  The poorest in society do not fly, or fly rarely, while the effective subsidy of undertaxed flying disproportionately benefits the affluent.   AW].  The result is worrying. In the past five years, the number of flights from Edinburgh has reduced from 124 per week to 109 and Glasgow from 115 to 60.

The Westminster Government agreed to devolve APD to Northern Ireland. But they refuse to do the same for Scotland, even though such a move was recommended by the Calman Commission, set up by the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems in response to the SNP poll success in 2007.

Scottish businesses say the tax must be devolved now, because a one-size-fits all approach is doing us such damage.

Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, has said: “We believe that devolving air passenger duty to Scotland would be beneficial in terms of creating a tax regime more suited to the needs of Scotland’s airports.”

Scotland is also suffering from the congestion at Heathrow and the Tory government’s reluctance to build another runway there.

Because it’s so busy, the London airport gives the very few available landing slots to international flights because these are more profitable. So Scotland’s connections suffer even more.

If we could abolish APD, more direct flights would go out of Scotland and we’d depend less on Heathrow. Why is Heathrow the only UK hub anyway? Why can’t have our own hub airport here in Scotland?

The Netherlands is tiny yet Schiphol is massive – it has six runways and is the world’s fifth largest airport for international passenger traffic.

The Dutch have already abolished the air passenger duty and seen flights and jobs soar. [The connection with jobs is likely to be coincidental.  Many Brits do choose to get flights to Amsterdam, and then long haul connections from there, and thus avoid paying a higher rate of APD].

As an independent country within the EU, the Netherlands can set and vary its taxes.

In Scotland, those decisions are made by a Westminster Government we didn’t vote for. That’s what stops us reaching for the skies.





Not so independent auditor

The – in theory – “independent” auditors for easyJet is …. guess who?  …. PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Independent auditors’ report (512KB)

which is most irregular …… probably worthy of investigation, as the “independent” auditor should not be involved in writing reports for its client.




Scottish airports and York Aviation lobbying, yet again, for a cut in APD

1.11.2012Scottish airports are, yet again, hoping to get a drop in Air Passenger  Duty, to try and keep flights under-taxed. Edinburgh, Glasgow and 
Aberdeen airports are calling on the UK government  to abolish APD or at least frozen and then reduced.  A new report by York Aviation (they produced one in February 2011 for BAA Scotland) says Scotland will lose 2 million passengers and £210 million a year in lost tourist spending because of APD. Strangely, this figure is massively higher than it was only a year and three quarters ago.  In February 2011 York Aviation only said that  ” …over the next three years, Scottish airports will lose around 1.2 million passengers, with the largest numeric losses on domestic services.” So a very sharp increase.  Dodgy assumptions and calculations? York Aviation and the airports, as they always do, only consider tourist income of visitors coming to Scotland, and completely ignore the money lost by Scots flying out to spend their holiday money abroad. And of course, completely ignores the tax breaks that air travel receives from paying no VAT and no fuel duty.




Report shows EU governments miss out on up to €39bn a year due to aviation’s tax breaks (no VAT or fuel duty)

July 30, 2013      IA report has been produced, by consultants CE Delft, for the sustainable transport group, Transport & Environment (T&E). It shows that debt-ridden EU countries miss out on up to €39bn every year from airlines not paying taxes. CE Delft found that this revenue shortfall is due to out-dated EU laws exempting international flights from fuel taxes, and from VAT, which is levied on almost all consumer goods. While every European consumer, small business and haulier has to pay on average a tax of €0.48 / litre of fuel for petrol or diesel, big commercial airlines – both those based in the EU and overseas – don’t pay any tax on their fuel. This revenue shortfall totals up to €32bn a year. In addition to this EU governments miss out on €7.1bn every year on VAT which is exempt on international flight tickets. T&E’s aviation policy officer Aoife O’Leary said: “International airlines are like flying tax havens inexplicably exempted from paying the basic EU taxes every EU citizen and company is obliged to pay.” However the airline industry says that without such tax holidays it would be hard pressed to turn a profit. (So much fuel used. So much CO2 generated. So little profit.) The EU consultation on state aid to airports & airlines closes 25th September. Click here to view full story…