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Chancellor must suspend passenger tax to avoid another Flybe

The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) has called on the Government to take urgent action in next week’s budget to help the vital aviation industry through what is likely to be an extremely difficult summer.

Coronavirus is having a massive impact on forward bookings and was undoubtedly a factor in Flybe’s collapse this week. The global airline trade body, IATA, is predicting a 24% reduction in demand for flights in the UK and Western Europe, which could lead to the collapse of other airlines, putting more pressure on both regional and the national economies. A number of airlines such as BA, easyJet, Norwegian and Ryanair have already started cancelling flights or issuing warnings about the impact of coronavirus on their revenues and profits.

BALPA General Secretary, Brian Strutton, said: “Air Passenger Duty is already a huge burden on the UK aviation industry costing the airlines £3.7bn per year, and is by far the highest in Europe.

“Right now there is a strong case for the Government to suspend APD for the next six months, and make significant reductions in the longer-term to help this struggling industry.

“Demand is down so much over the summer that we could easily see more airlines collapse without Government action, and that would have a significant knock-on effect to the economy.

“The Government’s u-turn on the support it promised was the main reason that Flybe collapsed this week. Unless the Government wishes to see yet other UK airlines go under we must see some action from the Treasury.”