The possibility of an air passenger duty (APD) review was shot down in flames yesterday, after a parliamentary debate on the controversial tax.
Salid Javid, the Government's economic secretary, said that, despite vociferous campaigning by MPs on the subject, no review would be forthcoming.
MPs cited many reasons for the review, including several hospitality factors. The tax, they said, was hitting leisure travellers especially hard. Those living in Scotland, who were significantly more isolated and therefore dependent on air travel; those living in Northern Ireland, who ended up travelling two hours to take flights out of Dublin owing to escalating costs; and those with family overseas - especially in the Caribbean - whose UK jobs were often low paid, were being especially discriminated against, they argued.
Sir Roger Gale, MP for Thanet North, summed it up: "Heathrow and other airports have generated incalculable sums of money both through business and tourism and this is now at stake. It's difficult and dangerous to ignore those facts but doing so will drive business away from the UK."
He added that as long as APD remained at its current level, regional airports would continue to suffer, adding: "The Government's economic mantra is wrong. More tax does not necessarily mean more money overall. There comes a point when you're killing the goose which is laying the eggs. The Government cannot carry on killing the aviation industry."
However, Javid said the Government had put in many other measures - including reducing the corporate tax rate, the export refinancing facility and more - which, when taking the tax burden on aviation as a whole, meant that neither a review or cut of APD would be considered until after the next election.
"Given we recently completed a comprehensive consultation, there are no plans for further reform at this point," he said bluntly.
The back bench debate in the House of Commons yesterday was a result of over 200,000 signatures on an e-petition calling for a comprehensive review of the overall impact of APD.
By Emily Manson
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