Caribbean flight taxes to double

Expats and their families and friends who regularly fly long haul and in particular to and from the Caribbean are being asked to help stop even higher taxes on flights to the region…

The Association of British Travel Agents is calling on them to write to their MPs to stop the Government once again drastically increasing taxes on long haul flights later this year, following on from significant increases in 2009.

It says this increase will have a particularly dramatic effect on the cost of flying to the Caribbean making visiting friends and family much more expensive when domestic budgets are already under pressure.

Currently if you fly economy to the Caribbean you pay the Government £50 for the privilege. From 1 November 2010 this goes up to £75, due to the flying poll tax being called Air Passenger Duty [APD].

ABTA says this means that a family of four going over to visit friends and relatives who currently pay £200 in tax will pay £300 for flights on or after 1 November. If you have paid for a little extra legroom in premium economy you will pay double these amounts.

It points out that travelling to the Caribbean is not the exclusive preserve of the better off with over 100,000 trips being made each year to visit friends and family. Caribbean islands are also heavily dependent of tourism which contributes 14.5% of their GDP and for some islands as much as 70% or more. Visitor numbers have already been impacted by the recession and this hike in APD will put thousands of local jobs at risk.

According to ABTA the British Government has backtracked on claims that APD is a green tax as already the £2 billion pounds raised each year is much greater than the cost of environmental damage caused by flying. UK airlines will be joining the European Union's Emission Trading Scheme in 2012, a much fairer and more efficient way of addressing environmental concerns.

‘Flying should not be the preserve of the rich and nor should it become more expensive for Brits to visit friends and family in the Caribbean. Raising taxes on flying harms tourism and damages the economies of Caribbean islands at the very time that they need help the most,' said Luke Pollard ABTA head of public affairs.

‘The government proposes doubling taxes on flying over the next five years. This will have a devastating effect on Caribbean tourism, the economies in the Caribbean and the ability of Britons to visit family and friends on the islands. It is time the government thought again about hiking aviation taxes,' he added.