Families 'priced out' by new Britain departure tax
AIRLINES have attacked the rise in Britain's airport departure tax being, warning many families would be priced out of a holiday.
A Virgin Atlantic spokesman said the Air Passenger Duty (APD) - introduced earlier this week - would make holidays "unaffordable for many'', while other airlines are also fuming and tourist destinations fear a plunge in business.
The tax, imposed at the point of purchase, is going up by 55 per cent for the longest flights.
"Holidays are an essential part of our lives and are valued even more in these difficult economic times,'' Julie Southern, Virgin Atlantic's chief commercial officer, said.
"With passengers now being asked to pay up to 10 times more tax since APD's introduction, the annual family holiday will become unaffordable for many.
"This absolutely has to be the last time that the travelling public faces APD rises.''
British Airways is also furious. Chief executive Willie Walsh has called the tax "a disgrace.''
The APD has four levels: Band A for flights up to 3200km; Band B for up to 6450km; Band C for up to 9650km and Band D for flights beyond that.
In economy class, Band A passengers face a nine percent rise from $19; Band B a 33 per cent hike from $73 to $98.
Band C passengers face a 50 per cent rise from $81 to $122, while Band D customers face a 55 per cent rise from $90 to $138.
Premium class passengers pay double those amounts, meaning the APD on first class flights to Australia will be $277.
Gareth Williams, chief executive of flight comparison site Skyscanner.net, suggested the hikes could lead long-haul travellers to fly from airports elsewhere in Europe.
"In a recent survey we found that more than three-quarters of our users would be willing to fly indirectly to save money,'' he said.
"It could have serious repercussions for the long-haul UK aviation industry.''
The government is considering replacing APD with a per-plane tax.