Campaigners say fair's fair'

PUBLISHED: 14:35 22 February 2007 | UPDATED: 21:34 29 May 2010

STOP Stansted Expansion has written to Chancellor Gordon Brown expressing its concerns over two major loopholes in Air Passenger Duty. Mr Brown recently doubled APD to address the increasing environmental damage caused by aviation. But SSE says all-busine

STOP Stansted Expansion has written to Chancellor Gordon Brown expressing its concerns over two major loopholes in Air Passenger Duty.

Mr Brown recently doubled APD to address the increasing environmental damage caused by aviation.

But SSE says all-business-class transatlantic services, which are operated by Eos Airlines and Maxjet out of Stansted Airport, are only liable for 50 per cent of the normal duty rate.

SSE's economics advisor, Brian Ross, said: "Because there is only one class of travel on Eos and Maxjet flights - premium business class - all passengers qualify for the reduced rate of £40 rather than the normal APD rate of £80.

"This is because of a loophole whereby the lowest class of travel on an aircraft qualifies for the reduced rate of APD.

"An even more glaring anomaly exists in relation to business and private jets, with these being totally exempt from APD because the tax only applies to aircraft with more than 20 seats.

"Thus the super-rich jetting off to the south of France or on a transatlantic jaunt pay no APD."

SSE wants Mr Brown to address the issue to prove it is concerned with climate change.

"Even with the increase in APD, aviation still only pays less than a quarter of its environmental costs," Mr Ross added.

"The government tries to justify this by saying that it doesn't want to price poor people off planes but here we have the Government allowing a 50 per cent reduction in APD on these luxury transatlantic flights and giving a total exemption to the super rich with private jets.

"There can be no justification for this whatsoever if the government is serious about tackling climate change."

Eos Airlines and Maxjet both began operating premium business class transatlantic services from Stansted at the end of 2005 and fly to New York, Las Vegas and Washington DC.

SSE research, using figures from the Civil Aviation Authority, shows Eos Airlines passengers produce the equivalent of nine tonnes of carbon dioxide each on a return trip to New York, three times more than a passenger flying with British Airways from Heathrow to New York.

SSE is also writing to the chairmen of the FTSE 100 companies to draw their attention to the far greater environmental damage caused by passengers travelling with premium class-only airlines and asking them to adjust their company air travel policies.

- EOS Airlines won the Best Long Haul Business Airline award at the Business Travel Show last week.

John Morgan, vice president of Europe and general manager UK, said: "We are delighted to hold this prestigious industry award, which recognises the renewed spirit, innovation and service quality Eos has brought to the business marketplace.

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