Tories Pledge To Scrap Airline Tax

ADAMAGING airline tax would be scrapped by a Conservative Government.

But the Tories say they will introduce their own per-plane tax to offer "real environmental incentives".

Tory MPs say they now recognise that Air Passenger Duty, which they introduced in 1993, needs to be replaced with a fairer tax aimed at making real environmental changes.

The Journal's Tax Too Far campaign has urged the Government to scrap rises in APD next year to prevent further damage to the North East economy.

The Tories had thought the Government was edging closer to these changes, but the Chancellor's mini-budget last week brought no good news for the campaign.

Last month the controversial tax was increased it is due to rise again next November.

Mark Hoban, the shadow minister for Wearside and a shadow treasury minister, said a genuinely green tax was now needed to reward those airlines that are adapting to climate change concerns.

He said: "We are looking at creating a per-plane duty. It would award those airlines such as Flybe and Easyjet who fly to Newcastle but have introduced modern, more efficient planes.

"We know air passenger duty is a tax raising measure, but now we have to be honest and change this to help motivate the industry, not punish it.

"This is something we have wanted to see changed for some time now, and we had believed the Government would agree with us but this is not likely now.

"You can no longer use environmental reasons to justify raising APD.

"If you want a green tax it has to be one that rewards those who are taking the appropriate steps and is a punishment for those who will not change."

North East business leaders had written to the Chancellor urging him to scrap the tax hike in his Pre-Budget Report. And a Commons Future of Aviation report has already criticised the Government for claiming its air tax is a green measure.

Aviation bosses say many airlines are making considerable changes to adapt to climate change concerns.

Earlier this month, KLM staged a demonstration flight with passengers on board, using 50% bio-fuel and 50% traditional kerosene.

President Peter Hartman said: "This is an important step on the road to sustainable aviation."

The Government last month increased the cost of APD on an economy short-haul flight to Europe or North Africa from £10 to £11 with a further rise due in November next year to £12.

A family of four or a team of business colleagues flying from Newcastle to Australia using Emirates will pay £340 in APD, more than double what they currently do, by next year.