MPs call for action next week

Hammond pressed to halve air passenger duty

Philip Hammond SkyChancellor Philip Hammond could steal a march on Holyrood’s plans to cut the cost of air travel by slashing a key tax.

MPs are urging the Westminster government to halve air passenger duty in next week’s Autumn Statement, and eventually scrap it entirely, in order to boost post-Brexit Britain’s ability to trade outside Europe.

Britain already has among the highest air taxes in the world and APD is set to rise further in April to £150 for some long-haul flights, but the British Infrastructure Group (BIG) claims it works against Britain’s overseas trading interests.

In economy class, passengers pay £73 in tax on long haul, which will rise to £75 next year. Business class flyers pay £146 which will increase to £150.

Grant Shapps, the former international development minister who leads BIG, said: “Now is the time to do it”, arguing that a cut could provide an immediate “Brexit dividend”.

In its report, BIG says: “If the government is to act on its commitments, especially those of securing new trading partners outside the EU, it must make it as easy as possible to do business, conduct negotiations and to stimulate the exchange of people and skills.

“It cannot continue to actively make extra-European travel more expensive than it needs to be.”

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