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Triple success on air taxes provides boost for region; APD.

Byline: ROB PATTINSON

THE Chancellor's announcements on aviation duty have been hailed as a success for The Journal's 'A Tax Too Far' campaign.

North East aviation said the region has received a "triple boost" by yesterday's budget, which saw a harmful passenger tax frozen.

George Osbourne said he would scrap completely plans for a per-plane tax, and hold this year's planned raise in Air Passenger Duty (APD) for 12 months.

The Chancellor also announced a full consultation on reform of APD, a levy The Journal has been campaigning against as harmful to the development of the region's economy. Bosses at Newcastle International, the region's largest airport, welcomed the moves and congratulated the newspaper on its efforts.

Graeme Mason, planning and corporate affairs director at the airport, said: "While there is still much work to do, The Journal should be congratulated for what is effectively a triple victory. First of all, the Government has abandoned a per-plane tax for now, which would have created all of the problems of APD, as well as distorting the market and damaging services already in place.

"Secondly, the Government has decided to freeze levels of APD for 2011, rather than introduce an inflationary measure. Thirdly, it has initiated a major consultation into the future of APD, which will include questions about the regional impact of the duty. "It means the Government has recognised us and listened to what we have been saying."

Business leaders in the region also welcomed the measures, which will address levy, seen as restraints on the region's trade links. Jonathan Walker, NECC export policy adviser, said: "The future of the UK economy lies in the competitiveness of our exports.

"The Chancellor's planned increase in tax credits and capital allowances will allow manufacturers to both develop and produce exciting products. Changes to fuel duty will provide a boost to hauliers to help move these products on and the freeze in air passenger duty will undoubtedly assist businesses seeking to break into new markets.

"But continued reforms are necessary to take into account the impact of this duty on regional airports."

First introduced in 1994, APD has been increased on a regular basis, with a hike last November putting rates up as high as pounds 170 per passenger for those going on the longest flights.

George Osborne also announced the Government would now seek to impose the tax on private jets.

British Airways welcomed the APD freeze, but it warned that high levels of aviation taxation prevented the airline playing "its full part in creating enduring growth for Britain".

Budget carrier Ryanair described APD as "a suicidal tourist tax" that should be scrapped, while travel organisation Abta said it regretted the decision to "backtrack on a manifesto commitment to replace APD".

CAPTION(S):

SUCCESS The consultations on APD reform follow a campaign by The Journal against the damaging duty
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 24, 2011
Words:476
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