Adrian Loveridge Column – APD is Still with US!
Naturally we depend on airlift to drive the overwhelming number of visitors who grace our shores, so I would like to continue with the subject again this week.
Kudos must be given to our policymakers for stepping in so quickly to compensate for the air seats lost with the collapse of the Thomas Cook Group including their airline recently, albeit at a cost to both the taxpayer and passengers using the carrier.
As frequent users of Thomas Cook Airlines, they provided a vital role in offering a lower cost alternative to and from Barbados, and the flexibility of allowing the booking of one-way fares, which provided substantial savings to frequent flyers visiting this island. While it is just possible to book single fares with both Virgin Atlantic and British Airways, the cost is significantly higher.
Sadly, across the region, despite many concerted, if eventually futile efforts, our politicians and the combined might of our private sector tourism industry, including the various travel trade representative bodies, were dramatically unsuccessful in persuading the British Government to eliminate or at least severely reduce the dreaded Advance Passenger Duty (APD).
And should anyone need to be reminded, the APD will once again be increased from April 2020 to GB Pounds 80 (reduced rate), GB Pounds 176 (standard rate) and a mind boggling GB Pounds 528 for the higher rate, all per person.
While this latest increase is relatively small, add it to all the other taxes and levies imposed within the last 13 months, and it again creates doubt, even in the most loyal return visitor, to remind themselves, that they are truly getting value-for-money.
With a UK election to be held within the next month, it may simply be too late to further lobby for APD removal or reduction, so would it be advisable to look at any possible alternatives?
At one stage, the leading Scottish political party stated one of their manifesto objectives would be to either eliminate APD altogether, or at least half the rate on departing flights from their major airports including Glasgow and Edinburgh.
That promise regrettably fell by the wayside.
But, I am absolutely convinced that sustained airlift from both Glasgow (3,609 nm*) and Edinburgh (3,644 nm) are feasible and both cities are in fact closer to Barbados than either Heathrow or Gatwick in direct distance, without the need of expensive and time consuming connecting flights or hotel overnights in London.
‘We’ should also be looking at direct flights from Belfast (3,527 nm). While
Northern Ireland remains in the United Kingdom there is no APD payable from its airport, offering a substantial cost saving, especially for families.
And finally, Could we resurrect a direct flight from the Republic of Ireland? Dublin (3,486 nm), Cork (3,377 nm) or Shannon (3.391nm). Again no APD payable and with the incredible advantage of offering the shortest flying time into the Caribbean together with a myriad of European connecting cities, mostly in countries who remain part of the EU.
*nm – nautical miles