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UK’s Air Passenger Duty: call to scrap duty to save air routes

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As the air transport industry grapples with its greatest crisis ever, an airline representative group has called for the suspension of the UK's Air Passenger Duty (APD) – which is the highest duty of its type in the world. 

A study carried out by a UK consulting firm and commissioned by Airlines UK has called on the British government at least to suspend Air Passenger Duty (APD) for 12 months, on the grounds that it would save 45% of the air routes out of the UK that would otherwise be lost due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Without intervention by the government, UK airports will lose around 600 routes initially, with the situation improving as the market recovers to being about 130 routes down by Jul-2021.

Regional airlines have been under extreme pressure in recent years, most recently including the demise of Flybe, which ceased operations on 4-Mar-2020.

This is dangerous territory because there is a hibernating environmental movement waiting to pounce on any attempt to nullify what even the government considers to be an untouchable tax. But needs must.

On the other hand, some of the assumptions by Airlines UK may not be wholly accurate with regard to its claim that it is regional airports that will suffer the most if the tax remains in place, sensitive territory for the government politically, because of its policy support for those regions.

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