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Airport welcomes MPs’ call for passenger tax study

A report from a high-powered Parliamentary Committee, which includes recommendations on the impact of Airport Passenger Duty, expanding capacity at Heathrow Airport and the possibility of supporting feeder services into the UK’s international hub from the regions has been described as ‘a major contribution to the debate over the future of air services.’

That was the response today from Peel Airports, the operators of Durham Tees Valley Airport, to the report from the House of Commons Transport Committee which comes down firmly on allowing expansion of Heathrow rather than the building of a new airport in the Thames Estuary.

Other recommendations in the report include the need for a fully-costed study on Air Passenger Duty, including an analysis of the impact of introducing differential rates and the possibility of a 12-month tax ‘holiday’ for new services operating from airports outside the south east.

Commented Peter Nears, Strategic Planning Director with the Peel Group “Clearly we need to look at the details of the Transport Committee report which runs to well over 120 pages, but there is no doubt that there are some issues which could have a significant impact on regional airports.

“Whatever decision is taken on the future of an international hub for the UK—whether it is the Committee’s choice of further expansion of Heathrow or the option of an entirely new airport east of London—it is crucial that consideration is given to access from regions such as the Tees Valley and wider region.

“The Committee recognises that the current constraints at Heathrow mean that for many customers using overseas hubs—such as Amsterdam Schiphol served through Durham Tees Valley—is the best option at present.

“However, they do say that in the short term the Government should investigate whether it is possible—within EU regulations—to protect ‘slots’ at Heathrow for feeder services…and that is, of course, an issue which we, with the support of our local Members of Parliament and others, have been arguing for some time.

“We are pleased that the Committee has spotlighted the need for a fully costed study on the impact of Air Passenger Duty, especially in the light of the report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, published recently, which argued that its abolition would actually boost the UK economy.

“If APD remains then there is clearly a strong case for introducing differential rates to help airports outside the south east attract business and we are pleased that the Committee is calling for the Government to carry out an objective analysis of that approach, as well recommending a 12-month ‘tax holiday’ period for new routes from airports outside the south east.

“We will now be studying the Committee’s report in detail, including their further call for improvements to rail and road access to airports. This is something we have stressed in the case of Durham Tees Valley where we would like to see the rail industry and local transport agencies move forward as quickly as possible with the long-awaited plans for a new rail halt serving the airport.”