Wednesday, August 12, 2020
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Women in Industry and Innovation virtual conference

Every industry sector has taken a massive hit from the ugly Covid-19 pandemic of 2020. The coronavirus has affected everything for as far as you can see, and even beyond that. Of course, some industries have taken a more severe hit than others- the airline industry being one of them.

One of the essential preventive measures that we have learned to take during this Covid-19 pandemic is social distancing and home isolation. Since the coronavirus is a global pandemic, affecting every country, there is hardly any safe place left for us to retreat to. Being in closed spaces for some time with others is also forbidden, which makes travel and tourism, primarily via air travel, completely closed off as an option.

In the UK, it has been noted that the airlines, ground handling, and even airports have received some amount of relief from the government. This has come in the form of loans as well as government employment support schemes. However, there has still not been any specific package from the government for the industry. Taking this into account, several UK airlines have requested a tax break, which can help the industry boost their demand and, thus, stand up on their feet once again.

 A group which represented some UK airlines such as British Airways, Ryanair and EasyJethave called on the government to allow a suspension of tax on their flights. The airlines feel that this will help them to boost their demand, after having faced a severe fall due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

What exactly do the UK airlines have in mind?

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the airline industry in a whole and harsh way. Although the airlines and airports have received great help, the industry itself is still suffering. Keeping this in mind, the UK airlines have asked the government to waive Air Passenger Duty for at least one year. This will help to save up to 8,000 jobs and also save routes in this industry, which has faced immense loss due to the coronavirus. By now, there have already been up to 30,000 job cuts, and there could still be many more to come.

 A sharp contrast is noticed in other European countries, where the government has stepped up to help quite instantly. Countries like France have granted their airline industry Air France around 7 billion Euros in the way of state-backed loans and other air. This aid has been immensely advantageous to the industry, helping them survive in these dire times.

Are tougher times coming up?

Several UK airlines have voiced their concerns over the upcoming winter season. They have stated that this season is particularly hard on the airline industry, as fewer people prefer to travel. With the winter creeping up steadily, the UK airline industry needs some form of aid at the earliest possible from their government to stay on their feet.

Tim Alderslade, the Airlines UK CEO, expressed concern that without adequate Government support for the airline sector, the UK airports run a genuine risk of losing some valuable routes, and of course, suffering enormous financial losses. An emergency APD waiver can help the airline industry get through the harsh wintertime and also go along the road of recovery.

This APD waiver could necessarily help in boosting the passenger demand in their industry by at least 12% in the coming 12 months.

What is APD tax?

APD tax, or Air Passenger Duty tax, is a tax that is added by the government on passenger flights in the UK. The tax adds about 13 more pounds to their airfares for passengers, for just an economy flight between the United Kingdom and Europe. However, when this APD tax is added to other kinds of flights, such as long haul flights in business class, then the additional price may amount to 170 pounds more.

How can reducing or removing APD tax be beneficial?

Heathrow has held a long-standing position that APD tax is unnecessary and a burden on competitiveness, investment, and tourism. The policy change would necessarily not impact transfer passengers flying on domestic routes.

The total cost savings that could be made by UK passengers could cause a potential increase in demands. Along with that, it could also stimulate up to an 8% increase in point-to-point demand on domestic routes (Heathrow) under a 100% reduction scenario. This could, potentially, equate to around 75,000 more round trips per annum. In the case of a 50% reduction scenario, the increase in demand could be seen up to 4%, which is equivalent to around 37,000 round trips.

By reducing the APD tax, not only do the domestic passengers get immense benefits, but passengers flying on local routes in the UK could also enjoy several benefits.

The reduction of APD tax can also reduce the cost of air travel expenses to and fro from other UK regions. Under the 100% reduction scenario, this could reduce the price up to 225 million euros per year. Under the 50% reduction scenario, it could see a reduction of 112 million Euro per annum.

What other benefits could be seen by reducing or wavering APD?

If the government were to waiver the APD taxes for at least a year, it could also enable several IT businesses as well as financial service sectors in Northern Ireland and Scotland’s main cities to retain their strong links with London, and even beyond. It could foster the trading of knowledge with the cost-efficient flights.

Not just that, this APD tax break could also improve the viability of newer domestic connections, as the cost of air travel for passengers would significantly reduce.

The proposal has been set in front of the UK Government, who will review it and inform the airline industry of their decision. Of course, it can be seen how this tax break can help in boosting passenger demand for domestic flights, and help out the airlines industry to overcome this unforeseen disaster. Although the Government aid provided to airports and airlines is being applauded, this move could be a lifesaver for the UK airline industry.

If your business is facing hardship or you are worried about debt or taxes, then we urge you to act as soon as possible.

Claims and disputes involving taxes are highly technical. Contact one of our proactive and professional commercial law solicitors now for expert legal advice.

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