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BA Cuts Caribbean Flights Due to High APD Taxes

British Airways has announced that it will be reducing its number of flights for Caribbean holidays due to the UK's high Air Passenger Duty. The airline has urged the government to scrap the APD as it jeopardises routes to the Caribbean and tourism.

BA Cuts Caribbean Flights Due to High APD Taxes

Britain’s national airline, British Airways has announced that it will be cutting the number of flights it offers to the Caribbean due to the exorbitant Air Passenger Duty tax.

Travellers taking Caribbean holidays will now have fewer flights to choose from as a result of the high tax and the airline is urging the government to scrap APD altogether.

At present, a family of four travelling to Florida in economy class will pay £240 in APD, but the same family taking Caribbean holidays will pay £300.

The rates are twice what a family from Germany would pay, and a family taking their holidays to the Caribbean from France would pay just £15. The airline pointed out that there are 22 EU countries that do not pay any aviation tax.

APD is charged according to how far away the capital of a country is from the United Kingdom. Despite Florida and Hawaii being located further from the UK, the country’s capital New York is closer than many Caribbean capital cities, so passengers travelling to the United States are charged less.

British Airways announced that they would be increasing the number of flights to Florida which has a tax rate 20 per cent lower than the Caribbean islands.

CEO of British Airways, Keith Williams told attendees of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s (CTO) annual conference in St Martin recently that the high tax was “jeopardising routes to the Caribbean”.

He said: “The Caribbean is a very important destination for us and we have a long and proud heritage of serving the region.

‘However, we can’t deny the reality that demand is not as high as it has been.

‘Taxation is most certainly a factor in this and sadly, a factor in our decision to reduce our frequency to the Caribbean next summer.

“It is no coincidence that our reduction in the number of services to the Caribbean is accompanied by a rise in services to Florida – another desirable holiday destination for UK sun-seekers, and a destination that is taxed at a rate 20 per cent less than the Caribbean.”

British Airways will decrease its flights from Gatwick to Barbados from 10 weekly flights to seven weekly flights, and it will be cancelling its twice-weekly service from Gatwick to Montego Bay in Jamaica.

The reduced flights are likely to be a blow to the Caribbean tourism industry as the region recovers from the global recession. Caribbean hotels and resorts and local businesses heavily rely on travellers from the UK and the rest of the Europe to sustain their tourism-led economy.

Earlier this year, the UK Finance Minister, George Osborne, announced that APD would be frozen for 12 months. The tax levels are currently being reviewed by the Government and the findings will be announced at the end of November.

Mr Williams added: “We continue to protest against the rises in APD and I hope that the Government’s recent consultation will lead to a more equitable banding system that does not unfairly penalise the Caribbean.”

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