No New Runway and APD Changes
The new coalition government has already signified two differences from its predecessor that will affect travellers. Both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats were opposed to another runway at Heathrow so it is no surprise that that has been confirmed. They have also announced that there will be no expansion at Gatwick or Stansted airports.
But already the new Secretary of State for Transport, Philip Hammond, can expect that he will be lobbied to change his mind. This seems unlikely given that both parties agreed this as part of the coalition agreement. What will go ahead is a push for high speed rail
Airport Passenger Duty is currently paid by each passenger regardless of the size of a plane or whether the plane is full or not. Now this will change and the tax will be levied on each plane. Will we as passengers end up paying more? It is hard to conclude that we won’t but theoretically newer planes that have fewer emissions should be charged less. Equally smaller planes will pay less overall but there will be fewer passengers to divide the fee between. Proportionately, a fuller plane load of passengers should pay less than a half full one. Will that happen? Only time will tell but in the meantime some countries in the Caribbean and the Far East who have been hit by this tax (in terms of a downturn in tourism receipts as fewer Brits may travel there. are beginning to lobby the Transport Secretary as well claiming as the tax stands it is, in the words of the Pacific Tourism Leaders’ Forum, “ill conceived and draconian” They and we passengers wait to see whether they will act before the next increase in APD takes place in November.
At one stage the Conservatives said that there would be a cabinet minister for tourism. It looks as though that has gone in the coalition talks. The Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt has overall responsibility for tourism just like under Labour and a junior minister will look after the day-to-day running. The new minister is John Penrose, MP for Weston-super-Mare. As a mere parliamentary secretary though tourism once again, seems to be regarded on one of the lowest levels in the government