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Published on Thursday, May 2, 2019

Travel company tells UK Government to raise air tax

A manifesto launched this week by Responsible Travel is calling on the UK Government to increase Air Passenger Duty to curb demand for flying.

It says APD should also be renamed to Green Flying Duty (GFD) to make it very clear it's an environmental tax.

The online travel agent and travel guide publisher says revenue from the tax should be ring-fenced for research and development in electric planes and better railway connectivity.

It believes there should be a higher tax on first, business and premium economy seats and private jets, a small rise for economy seats, and a new dedicated band for domestic flights to discourage domestic flying.

Its manifesto also wants to persuade more countries to roll out a green tax.

Customer director Tim Williamson said travel businesses need to consider the bigger picture and look beyond their short term survival.

"Having worked for two airlines - TUI and Monarch - I am frequently amazed at how frail and vulnerable travel businesses are to movements in the oil price, the decline of a particular destination or the fact that the weather is warmer than usual.

"If travel businesses were more focussed on developing a brand that stands for something and great product that customers want to come back to, as well as tell their family and friends about, they wouldn't need to worry about an increase in such an easy to collect tax such as APD, especially when funds could be ring fenced to develop sustainable aviation faster.

"If we think about future generations and not just the very short term viability of our businesses there is no way we can't acknowledge that aviation needs to change dramatically."

Responsible Travel CEO Justin Francis said the aviation sector is one of the fastest growing contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

"With just 11 years left to make the reductions necessary to limit global temperatures rising to no more than 1.5C, some tough choices are needed," he added.

"Carbon offsets will never tackle the real issue that we face - that we need radical reductions in emissions at unprecedented speed. Not in years to come, but in months to come. It's time to demand action."

Responsible Travel developed the aviation manifesto with help from Friends of the Earth, the Aviation Environment Federation and electric plane manufacturers.

Alongside aviation, the company's manifesto will also cover issues such as plastics, animal welfare, overtourism, social media, and cruises. These manifesto 'chapters' are still being finalised and will be released in stages.

"We'll be working with different experts for each chapter," said Francis. "We won't get it all right and we are asking for new ideas and constructive criticism from the industry."


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