The International Airlines Group (IAG) and other airlines said the continued rising of air passenger duty (APD) in the years ahead as outlined in the UK Budget by British chancellor Philip Hammond is undermining competitiveness.
Hammond said yesterday APD will increase in line with inflation for long-haul flights but the levy will be frozen for short-haul flights.
There will also be no changes to APD in Northern Ireland, where there has been fierce opposition to the charge.
IAG the parent company of British Airways, said: “It’s ironic that this Brexit budget has undermined Britain’s global competitiveness by upping Air Passenger Duty, the world’s highest aviation tax, again.
“Last year, British Airways’ passengers paid £682 million in APD. We want to offer more flights to key trading markets, like our European competitors, but APD stifles route development to new emerging markets.
“This outdated tax also costs UK jobs and growth. If Britain wants to compete on the global stage post Brexit, it should be scrapped now.
“However, we welcome the extension of e-passport gates to other countries, but this will only be effective in reducing queues if all e-gates are opened to accommodate the volume of passengers.”
Virgin Atlantic is also believed to be firmly against the plans to rise APD for long-haul flights in the years ahead.
Airlines UK chief executive, Tim Alderslade said: “Today’s announcement sends entirely the wrong signal as we prepare to leave the European Union. APD is nothing but a tax on Global Britain.
“Rates are already the highest in the world, with the burden on passengers travelling from and within the UK having risen over 1000% since its introduction, and set to hit an eye watering £4bn by 2022/3.
“The UK was only country in Europe to see a loss of direct connectivity last year, and today’s increase on business and holiday travellers will make it even harder for UK airlines to grow our international connectivity, establish new trade links and encourage more tourists to visit the UK. With Brexit just around the corner, it is a missed opportunity to have truly transformed the UK’s international competitiveness.
“Ministers can talk all they like about reaching out to the world but today’s increase demonstrates that their words are not matched by their actions and will remain so until they get rid of this damaging tax.”