Scrap air tax to enable holidays for everyone, Thomas Cook boss urges new PM May


Theresa May should scrap air passenger duty (APD) to enable "holidays for everyone", according to the boss of Thomas Cook.

The travel firm's chief executive, Peter Fankhauser, said the success of his business "has a lot to do with the environment in which we operate" and urged the new Prime Minister to boost the competitiveness of British companies by removing APD.

Standard class APD is £13 per passenger for departing short-haul flights and £73 for long-haul.

Control over the tax is already being devolved to Scotland, whose Government is proposing to reduce it by 50% in 2018 and eventually remove it completely.

Speaking at an event in central London to celebrate Thomas Cook's 175th anniversary, Mr Fankhauser said: "As Mrs May and her team in Government look to steady the ship and build a positive future post-Brexit, I have one strong recommendation: do all that you can to make the environment for British companies more favourable."

He went on: "If I'm allowed to pick a priority, it's the air passenger duty tax. (It) has now risen to a point where UK holidaymakers are subjected to the highest air taxes in the world.

"Not only is it making us uncompetitive but it places an unfair burden on our customers.

"Scotland is already considering abolishing APD. England needs to get in line and Mrs May has promised a Britain for everyone. At Thomas Cook we would like to have holidays for everyone."

Mr Fankhauser went on to describe the "absence of any desire in Brussels to change" following the victory for the Leave campaign in the UK's EU referendum as "depressing".

He said: "I get no sense that the bureaucrats are reflecting on the vote with a view to making a Europe that the majority of people want to be part of.

"Instead of taking a hard look at the situation and considering a way to make it better, they seem only to want to defend what they have and that is the real pity.

"In these circumstances we have to accept the vote but also do what we can to improve the environment we are operating in."