Flybe Europe’s largest regional airline has told the Government that it must scrap or drastically reduce a controversial air tax.
Flybe said domestic travellers currently pay a premium levy per mile which is 38 times that paid by long-haul passengers.
Flybe has sent an open letter to Chancellor George Osborne calling for air passenger duty (APD) to be reformed in the interests of fairness for travellers.
The basic domestic rate for APD is currently £13 – a sum that is paid twice on return trips.
A Treasury spokeswoman yesterday said there were no plans to get rid of the levy.
Saad Hammad, the chief executive officer of Flybe – which has 14 direct routes to Britain from Belfast – said he believed the Treasury had overlooked the way in which APD disadvantaged regional travellers on a per mile basis in comparison to those travelling short-haul to Europe, and, in particular, those travelling long-haul.
The basic domestic rate for APD is £13, which means someone travelling on a one-way trip from Manchester to the Isle of Man (109 miles) pays £13.
If that person were to travel from Manchester to Auckland (11,311 miles) they would pay £71.
“This represents a tax premium per mile of 19 times for the UK domestic business traveller over the long-haul traveller,” he said.
Mr Hammad added that domestic travellers also ended up paying APD twice on return trips (because APD is a departure tax), whereas international travellers only have to pay it once.
He said: “So, in the example above, the domestic traveller pays a tax premium per mile of 38 times!”
Flybe stressed that a return domestic flight should only have APD levied on it once.