A controversial ‘green’ levy that adds hundreds of pounds to family holidays is a simple tax grab on hard-pressed households, the Chancellor has admitted.
Air Passenger Duty has been dressed up as an environmental measure designed to discourage air travel. But in a leaked letter, George Osborne says: ‘APD is fundamentally a revenue raising duty and currently raises around £2.5billion per year.’
Last night one senior aviation figure said: ‘The cat is out of the bag with this admission. It’s a tax grab, pure and simple.’ Mr Osborne is expected to announce a rise in APD for 2012 in next month’s autumn statement. At present, a family of four flying economy to Florida pay a total of £240 tax.
APD was introduced by the Tories in 1994 as a straightforward way to raise money but was swiftly rebranded as a ‘green signals’ tax by Labour. The idea was to discourage plane use, but it is loathed by many who have seen it vastly inflate air fares.
Mr Osborne’s admission that the tax, divided into four bands according to the length of flights, is nothing more than a way of raising cash comes in a letter dated August 12 to Olivier Jankovec, director general of the Brussels-based Airports Council International.