British MP against ‘ridiculous’ air departure tax

Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather has promised to pressurise the UK government to drop the planned Air Passenger Duty which will be levied on passenger flights to the Caribbean.

Ms Teather helmed an All-Parliamentary Group of British MPs speaking for a cross-party group of MPs, tourism ministers and Caribbean officials which met at London’s World Travel Market trade fair last month.

Departure tax on flights to the Caribbean increase between 25 per cent and 87 per cent depending on the class of travel immediately and in November 2010 that tax will reach at least 94 per cent. This means that a family of four travelling to the Caribbean in premium economy in 2010 will now pay £600 ($792) in air passenger duty alone.

Ms Teather said that MPs had been lobbied by Caribbean residents and travellers from UK constituencies wishing to travel to Caribbean. The region has been placed in a category with a higher duty than the US despite the fact that some US destinations are much further away from the UK than the Cayman Islands, for example.

‘[I]t is going to be cheaper to travel to the west coast of America, which is further away from the UK, than to travel to the Caribbean and that’s just ridiculous.

‘It doesn’t make any sense from an environmental perspective and it doesn’t make any sense from any perspective of logic. So I’m working with the Caribbean Council and a number of Caribbean countries to lobby the government to try and make sure they don’t go ahead with this,’ she said.

Edwin Carrington, secretary general of CARICOM had dubbed the new tax ‘friendly fire’ on the tourism industry after the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Trinidad last month.

The tax was intended as an environmental measure that would offset the impact of carbon emissions by air passengers.