Willie Walsh has started the new year with a renewed call on the government to scrap Air Passenger Duty (APD), labelling it an “out of control rip-off”.
Speaking to The Times today about what will dominate 2016, the International Airlines Group chief executive said the tax puts off foreign travellers, “punishes” Brits and is costing the country jobs.
He added: “(APD is an) out of control rip-off . . . The chancellor thinks this is easy money. There’s no such thing.
“The UK spends hundreds of millions of pounds attracting foreign tourists and business people to the country and then charges them up to £142 in tax to return home.
“This tax also punishes UK customers, knocks 0.5% off UK GDP and loses us 60,000 jobs. Jobs that would be created over medium term if APD is scrapped.”
Walsh also urged the government to make a decision over the third runway at Heathrow, adding: “How much time do you need? How many reports could you commission? Get on with it.
“The economy, like any business, does not like uncertainty. Put the country and the economy before narrow party politics or we will become a laughing stock.
“If the decision is to proceed with a third runway, then make sure the price tag is not so unaffordable that we waste money building a car park for £800 million and an airport terminal for around £8 billion.”
Walsh also shared his thoughts on Europe with the paper, saying: “Yes, it does need fundamental reform, but the continued uncertainty about the UK membership of the EU will weigh on business minds next year.
“Personally I believe it is good for UK jobs, economic growth and security to stay in Europe. The best way to influence the EU is from within it.”
He also urged the government to introduce 10-year visas for Chinese travellers to ensure the UK is well placed to benefit from China’s growing economy and outbound tourism industry.