The controversial Air Passenger Duty tax that effectively made it cheaper to fly to Hawaii than the Caribbean, has become a major election issue for black Britain.
Leaders of Britain’s Black-led churches are calling upon their members and the wider community to demand a change in the current arrangements for the Air Passenger Duty (APD) tax, before casting their votes at the general election on 6 May.
The Churches are aligning themselves with a campaign by the Coordinating Committee Against the APD which is comprised of representatives of Caribbean organisations based in the UK. The committee is seeking a re-banding for Caribbean countries after the introduction of a four-tier system based upon the distance of capital cities from London. The APD effectively means that travelers to Los Angeles (11 hours) will incur less duty than those flying to Barbados (eight hours).
Chair of the Coordinating Committee Against the APD, Jeff Gilkes, said: ‘The developing economies in the Caribbean depend largely on tourism and an air tax that makes it more expensive to travel to Kingston or Bridgetown than to anywhere in the United States is discriminatory. We are calling on whichever party forms a government after the 6 May general election to bring the Caribbean into the same band as the United States’.
Church leaders and other community members opposed to the APD note that the tax could potentially damage tourism to the region, as well as negatively impact on those returning to the region for family visits on significant occasions such as weddings and funerals.
The first of two increases in Air Passenger Duty (APD) came into effect last November and is based on a four-tier banding system based on the distance from London to the destination’s capital city.
A further, steeper rise is expected next November.
Members of the public are asked to lobby their prospective parliamentary candidates on the issue.
Air Passenger Duty Banding
Band A (0 – 2000 miles from London)
Includes: Europe, Algeria, Greenland, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia
Band B (2001-4000 miles from London)
Includes: Bermuda, Canada, Egypt, Gambia, Jordan, Oman, Russia (east of Urals), Syria, UAE, US
Band C (4001-6000 miles)
Includes: Botswana, Brazil, Caribbean, China, India, Japan, Kenya, Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Seychelles, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand
Band D (more than 6000 miles)
Includes: Argentina, Australia, Chile, Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore