AIRLINES are warning that thousands of jobs and the position of Heathrow as Europe's premier airport are under threat from a huge rise in passenger tax from November 1.
The 50 per cent increase has prompted the British Air Transport Association Ð the airlines' trade body Ð to announce that Britain will be put at a 'huge disadvantage'
the tax. BATA chief executive Simon Buck said: 'This is the most anti-aviation Government in post-war Britain.'
The tax, which was proposed
the last Labour Government but also endorsed
the coalition, will be the highest in Europe. It has two bands according to the class of air travel Ð economy and everything above.
A family of four flying economy to the Caribbean will pay £300 in Air Passenger Duty Ð up from £200 at present. A family of four flying to the same destination in any class above economy currently pays £400 duty, but from next month this will soar to £600.
British airlines fear that passengers will opt to fly cheaply to the Continent before switching to foreign airlines and then travelling onwards on long-haul flights.
The Netherlands was forced to scrap a similar tax immediately after it was introduced because it found that passengers simply travelled to other countries to avoid it.
Germany is set to impose an air travel levy from the start of next year, but will do so at a much lower rate.
British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh said: 'APD on long-haul routes will have tripled or even quadrupled in four years.
'We are in severe danger of pricing large numbers of people out of flying and imposing disproportionate costs on doing business in Britain.'
Chris Browne, managing director of Thomson Airways, said in August: 'The current APD system does nothing to encourage airlines to be more environ- mentally responsible and penalises those who want to book a few extra inches on their holiday flight.'