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Pilot union expresses dismay at lack of support for airlines in budget

The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) says it is dismayed that its calls for a temporary removal of APD has not been addressed in the budget. The government has instead increased APD for long-haul flights and forecasts bringing in an extra £400m from the tax over the next two years.

In today’s budget, it is reported that air passenger duty (APD) rates will increase by £2 for long-haul flights, the rates for those travelling in premium economy, business and first class will increase by £4, and short-haul remains frozen at £13.

The Chancellor did announce a consultation on aviation tax reform in the spring which is welcome, although the industry needs assistance now to support airlines facing financial difficulty this summer in wake of the coronavirus outbreak., not at the end of a lengthy consultation process.

Coronavirus is having a huge impact on forward bookings and was undoubtedly a factor in Flybe’s collapse.

BALPA General Secretary, Brian Strutton, said: “We called on the government last week to suspend APD for six months in an effort to support our airlines, which are already being hit hard by a reduction in bookings due to coronavirus.

“Removing APD is just one simple step they could have done to give airlines the support they need to get through what will be a difficult summer, yet the budget has been and gone and we’re incredibly disappointed that there was no mention of how our government is going to help our aviation industry.

“Unless the Government wishes to see more UK airlines go under we must see some urgent action from the Treasury – we can’t wait until spring for this situation to be addressed.”