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Air Passenger Duty is stifling Manston

North Thanet`s MP, Sir Roger Gale, has this (Thursday) afternoon told the House of Commons how he believes that high levels of air passenger duty are stifling the potential growth and job-creation of Manston (Kent International Airport).
 
Speaking in the debate on APD the MP said;
 
“Aviation is valuable to the United Kingdom, it is valuable to all of our major conurbations and it is particularly valuable to the South East.
 
Hitherto, Heathrow Airport has been the world`s premier aviation hub and travellers inter-lining through Heathrow have done business at airport hotels and in the city and have spent money in London`s Theatres and restaurants.  Backed up by Gatwick as the major short and long haul tourist airport we have been a world leader.,
 
But we are losing business to mainland Europe. Not in ten or fifteen years time but now. Today.  Passengers and airlines are choosing to use Frankfurt, Schiphol and Charles de Gaulle rather than pay UK rates of APD and travellers from the UK are now taking short-haul flights to the continent and then travelling APD-free on the long-haul journeys to the Far East, the developing markets of South America and, of course, the USA.  And wouldn`t Paris just love to take London`s place as the world class financial centre?  It could happen.
 
We face two problems. Airport capacity and Air Passenger Duty.  Manston in Kent, with its long runway, is capable of making a significant contribution to aviation in the South East and relieving pressure on Gatwick and Heathrow while the government decides whether to build a third runway at Heathrow, a second runway at Gatwick or Boris Island.
 
But Air Passenger Duty is stifling Manston.  We cannot look at regional airports in the same light as major hub airports and while in the long run I want to see APD phased out completely I believe that in the short-term there has to be a recognition of the economic fragility of regional airports such as Manston and a different rate of duty.
 
The Treasury will say that “APD is worth billions of pounds to the Exchequer” but they say that without looking at the downside, the lost business and the lost tourism that is worth a lot more.
 
There is no evidence to support the Treasury case for APD and that is why we need a thorough review of APD in the immediate future and a proper evaluation of the true income and the true costs to UK limited”

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