Air passenger duty under review

The Government is apparently
preparing to review the controversial changes to Air Passenger Duty this March,
after widespread protest about the unfair banding system.

The Jamaican tourism minister
Edmund Bartlett revealed that, according to his sources, a consultation would
be launched to find a successor to the current arrangement on Budget Day, 23 March.

Caribbean tourism chiefs have
complained that the new system for charging APD puts them at a disadvantage to
the USA as it puts countries into four bands depending on how far their
capitals are away from the UK.

As a result it is now more
expensive to fly to the Caribbean, which is closer, than it is to go to
American destinations and some flight comparison sites have already noticed a
drop in interest for the Caribbean.

Cheapflights is apparently
reporting a 13 per cent drop in searches for Jamaica holidays while Barbados
has seen a 23 per cent decrease in interest.

APD has increased twice in two
years and the latest jump in November 2010; saw some long haul flight taxes
increase by as much as 55 per cent.

Britain now has the highest flight
tax charges in the world, which is expected to have a huge effect on
travellers, particularly families.

A family of four flying to
Australia will now have to pay $540 in APD compared to just $127 four years
ago.

The tax also makes the UK an
undesirable base for airlines, which many fear will simply choose to base
themselves elsewhere to avoid the added cost.

Countries like Greece and Holland
have scrapped the tax altogether and Ireland has cut theirs to encourage more
business.

Instead of the current system,
which favours certain destinations over others, Caribbean officials have
suggested a simpler system of two different charges, one for short haul flights
and another for long haul.

However, Cheapflights chairman Hugo
Burge told travelmole.com that although the Caribbean would benefit from the reorganisation
of APD, the high level of tax is likely to remain the same for Britons, continuing
to put a burden on cash-strapped holidaymakers.

WORLDAirpassengerdutySTORY

The Caribbean is penalised under current APD rules
Photo: guardian.co.uk
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