Britain’s aviation industry is imploring Rishi Sunak to accelerate a review of air passenger duty (APD) to help revive a sector brought to its knees by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sky News has seen a letter from the bosses of four trade groups in which they urge the chancellor to kick-start a consultation promised when Flybe, the regional carrier, collapsed earlier this year.
In it, they urge Mr Sunak to suspend APD for “at least six months”.
Such a move, they argue, would “stimulate demand, supporting not only the recovery of a competitive UK aviation industry, but also the regional tourism, investment and employment opportunities aviation brings to communities across the UK”.
The letter was signed by the chief executives of Airlines UK, the Airport Operators Association and the Board of Airline Representatives in the UK; and the UK head of the International Air Transport Association.
Ministers had been weighing reforms to APD at around the time of Flybe’s demise, which came after shareholders including Virgin Atlantic Airways refused to inject more money into the struggling airline.
The industry is desperately seeking ways to stimulate demand against a bleak backdrop that they say has been made worse by the introduction of a 14-day coronavirus quarantine period for passengers arriving in the UK from overseas.
“APD is one of the key levers available to the Treasury by which it can re-establish the critical connectivity on which the UK economy and aviation sector depends,” the aviation bosses wrote.
“This is to the benefit of not only tourism and hospitality operators, but also critical supply chains and manufacturers who rely on vital bellyhold capacity for imports and exports of goods.
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