Published on Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tories to reform APD and scrap new runway plans

A Conservative manifesto pledge to reform Air Passenger Duty will be widely welcomed by the trade.
David Cameron's party says it will "reform Air Passenger Duty to encourage a switch to newer and fuller planes".
If the Tories gain power at the May 6 general election, the manifesto also calls for the scrapping of plans for a third runway at Heathrow and second runways at Gatwick and Stansted. 
There would be a high speed rail line linking London, Heathrow, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds with the Continent via the Channel Tunnel with construction to start in five years' time. 
The Conservative manifesto calls for the break up of Heathrow and Stansted owner BAA's monopoly over London-area airports and to make Heathrow "better not bigger".
"We will also provide a high speed rail alternative to thousands of short haul flights at Heathrow, freeing up landing slots at the airport and helping to deal with overcrowding problems," the manifesto says. 
The stance comes against Labour's manifesto which says: "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."
Labour says it will also encourage more people to switch to rail travel "with an enforceable right to the cheapest fare".
EasyJet was amongst the first to support the Tory pledge to reform APD. 
Chief executive Andy Harrison said: “We welcome the Conservatives’ promise to reform the UK’s daft air tax.
“A tax that forces families to subsidise private jets, cargo planes and 20 million foreign transfer passengers per year is way past its sell-by date.
“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.”
APD has been widely criticised for exempting private jets, cargo aircraft and foreign passengers changing planes as well as for under-taxing long-haul passengers.
EasyJet and numerous other airlines as well as environmental groups have long called for a complete overhaul of APD.
The vast majority of people in the UK support a reform of APD, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by the airline last October in the run up to the last increase in the tax in November 2009.
The analysis shows that 80% of the population agree that all flights, including cargo and private jets, should be taxed, while 69% said the tax ought to be designed to tackle climate change.
In addition, almost two thirds of those questioned (65%) agreed that APD should also cover foreign transfer passengers.  
*See linked story on Liberal Democrat APD stance.
by Phil Davies

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  • How many other aiports want extra runways?

    Pledging not to allow something that is not on the radar screen is surely just a Labour smokescreen?

    By Gilbert Archdale, Thursday, April 15, 2010

  • Airports and Rail

    Better utilisation of the existing airports and helping the expansion of regional airports makes good sense. The privitisation of the railways, while not handled in the best way at the time, has meant the user pays rather than the wider tax payer and this has resulted in increased passenger numbers and improved quality. My memories of British Rail are of poor service and old rolling stock.

    By Mike Reynolds, Wednesday, April 14, 2010

  • Better utilisation

    The answer to the projected increase in airport traffic is not to build new runways at existing and already 'stressed' main hub airports but support emerging regional airports with aspirations to grow. How? By streamlining the planning process and providing better infrastructure support at a local level. The relaxing of restrictions on regional development funds for airports and airlines for new routes would also be helpful. High speed rail connectivity might be desirable but the cost and environmental impact is huge - a cost that can't be justified at a time when the country's finances are in such a poor state. A big part of the air travel contribution to the environment is not the number of aircraft in the air, but the excessive number of car journeys taken by people to take flights from the big hub airports.

    By Tim Gill, Wednesday, April 14, 2010

  • Tories aren't the answer.

    Maybe the Tories shouldn't have privatised rail in the first place. The 1993 sale of National Rail pushed up fares making us so much more dependent on cheaper domestic flights.

    By Amy Wilson, Wednesday, April 14, 2010

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