The UK’s airlines have renewed calls for a 12-month waiver from paying Air Passenger Duty (APD) in a bid to protect the industry from damage from the coronavirus crisis.
A new survey from industry body Airlines UK has found that without such a waiver, 600 air routes will be lost in the short-term, as well as 8,000 jobs.
In 12 months time, the survey, which was carried about by York Aviation, said that 130 routes would be lost if airlines had to continue paying APD, 80 per cent of which would be in the UK.
However, if they are exempted from the tax for a year, 56 of these could be saved, it found. Two weeks ago a group of 24 Tory MPs wrote to chancellor Rishi Sunak to ask for the exemption from the passenger tax.
The UK’s aviation industry has already been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, but the government has stopped short of putting in place a sector specific package to protect it from the devastation wrought by a 98 per cent fall in flights.
Airlines UK said that waiving APD would see 21m take to the skies over the next year, an increase of about 12 per cent. It called for the exemption to be announced no later than in the autumn’s budget. Despite the lifting of mandatory quarantine measures for about 60 countries, passenger numbers are still about 70 per cent down year-on-year.
Chief executive Tim Alderslade said the consequences for the industry could be tragic unless the government stepped in.
UK airports are in danger of losing many valuable routes over the coming months unless the Government steps in with a support package for our sector starting with an emergency APD waiver to get us through the winter and into the recovery, he said.
The UK came into this crisis as the third best connected country in the world it would be a tragedy if through government inaction and neglect we needlessly forfeited this position to our closest rivals.
Prominent Tory backbencher Sir Graham Brady, who chairs the 1922 committee, said that the government was in grave danger of causing real and lasting damage to airlines unless such routes are protected.
Almost alone within Europe we have been slow to appreciate the importance of aviation not only as an industry that supports a million jobs but as an enabler of the outward facing trading nation we wish to be, he added.
A HM Treasury spokesperson said:“The aviation sector is important to the UK economy, and will be able to draw upon the unprecedented package of measures announced by the chancellor, including paying people’s wages through the furlough scheme, the Covid Corporate Financing Facility, Time to Pay flexibilities with tax bills including APD, and VAT deferrals. We are continuing to work closely with the sector.