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Virgin Atlantic offered APD-free Cancun flights in protest of the rising tax

Sir Richard Branson- Virgin Atlantic CEO has lashed out against the UK government's Air Passenger Duty (APD) at a ceremony held in Cancun to celebrate the airline's inaugural flight to Cancun deeming the costly tax a "disgrace". In an effort to highlight the firm's dissatisfaction with the tax, Virgin Atlantic recently offered APD-free Cancun flights to passengers booking their tickets on 14th and 15th July 2012 and has encouraged customers to join a petition against the tax.

Virgin Atlantic offered APD-free Cancun flights in protest of the rising tax

Virgin Atlantic made the bold move to pay the controversial Air Passenger Duty (APD) for any passenger who booked their flights to Cancun on 14th and 15th July 2012, giving lucky travellers booking over the weekend the opportunity to make major savings on APD-free Cancun holidays.

The decision was announced by the airline’s CEO- Sir Richard Branson at a lavish ceremony held in Cancun to celebrate the airline’s inaugural flight to Cancun on Saturday 7th July 2012 where Mr Branson took the time to speak out candidly against the UK tax which he deemed a “disgrace”. “A family of four is now being asked to pay £325 in Air Passenger Duty to take a holiday to Cancun. It is a disgrace” stated Mr Branson

The structure of the current APD tax system remains the main source of contention for tourism officials at many popular Caribbean holiday destinations like Barbados, Cancun, Tobago, the Cayman Islands and Jamaica, as well as the airlines that service the routes to these destinations from the UK including Virgin Atlantic and British Airways.

Calculated according to the distance between the UK capital and the capital city of the destination, the criticism has been that the APD is inherently biased towards U.S. destinations like Hawaii which attracts a lower APD despite the fact that it is located much further away geographically-speaking. It also favours many other destinations in the U.S. that are geographically further away from the UK, just because the U.S. capital city of Washington is closer to London.

Cancun Beaches
Image by: IDEE_PER_VIAGGIARE, on Flickr

With the cost of the APD steadily increasing, moving up to as much as £324 for a holiday in the Caribbean for a family of four as of April 2012 compared to a mere £40 in 2007, airlines like Virgin Atlantic have criticised the UK government for negatively impacting on their bottom line as well the UK’s financial recovery. Mr Branson noted, “In an Olympic year, it is obscene for the Treasury to be taking £10 million every day from visitors and British holidaymakers alike. This suffocating tax has rocketed way out of control. Years of above-inflation increases have hit passengers hard, are hitting the economy hard and are impeding our recovery from the recession”.

Virgin Atlantic has also urged passengers to protest against the APD via their e-tickets with a short message encouraging all passengers to join the Fair Tax on Flying campaign while UK residents had the option of taking 15 seconds to email their MP highlighting their concerns over the rising cost of the APD via a pre-formatted email template. This is available from their website

Only time will tell if the UK government will buckle under the pressure from key spokespeople like Mr Branson, in the meantime passengers can only hope for another promotional offer of an APD-free Cancun holiday from Virgin Atlantic if they hope to book cheaper Cancun flights.

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