Campaign calls for APD to be scrapped for children

Campaign calls for APD to be scrapped for childrenBy Juliet Dennis,

The A Fair Tax on Flying coalition has launched a large-scale campaign calling on the government to scrap Air Passenger Duty on children’s flights.

Scrap The Tax on Family Flights launched on Monday, and urges staff in the travel trade as well as consumers to register their opposition to the tax on children.

APD adds £52 to the cost of a family of four’s economy flights to destinations in Europe and £276 to destinations such as the US. The tax is the highest of its kind in the world and only four other European countries levy a similar charge.

The coalition of aviation, travel and tourism partners is confident of widespread support for the campaign, which comes ahead of next week’s Autumn Statement by chancellor George Osborne, and hopes to bring about a change in the March 2015 budget, the last before the next General Election.

It follows a ComRes poll, commissioned by A Fair Tax on Flying, which found 65% of UK adults thought children under 12 should be exempt from APD in the same way children are exempt from other taxes, while 75% said it was unfair UK families pay a flight tax while those from other countries do not get charged.

The coalition, set up with the aim of reducing APD, claims it would cost the Treasury £50 million if it stopped charging the tax on children aged two to 12, who are currently charged the same amount of APD on flights as adults. The £50 million is understood to represent around 1.7% of overall APD revenue.

A spokesman for the campaign said: “The tax on children’s flights is a strain on family budgets. Scrapping APD on children’s flights will help to make an annual holiday more affordable for hard working and hard pressed families at a minimal cost to government.”

Around 30 members of Parliament have already signed a House of Commons early day motion to support the issue. “We expect this number to increase,” added the spokesperson.

A special online calculator – a new version of the coalition’s existing tax calculator – has been created for supporters of the campaign to work out how much they are paying for their children to fly.

The calculator can then send an electronic postcard to chancellor George Osborne to scrap the tax and allows supporters to tweet their opposition directly to the Treasury.

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “As an industry we can support this and spread the message ahead of what is a crucial pre-election budget. We’d urge all of our members and travel companies far and wide to use Facebook and Twitter to follow the campaign and share messages and the calculator link with their customers and contacts.”

The campaign follow recent calls from high-profile figures in the industry, including Virgin Atlantic chief executive Craig Kreeger and BMI chief executive Cathal O’Connell, to abolish APD for children.

Richard Singer, European managing director of Travelzoo and a long-time campaigner against APD, said: “Travelzoo fully supports the ‘Scrap The Tax on Family Flights’ campaign and welcomes the news that David Cameron has voiced his support for this initiative.

“Since July 2013 Travelzoo has been lobbying the Government to remove or reduce Air Passenger Duty on flights for families – our suggestion was to remove this tax on flights during school holiday dates.

“A removal of tax on all flights for children under the age of 12 is in keeping with our aim to fight what we call the Parent Trap – the combined effect of the government fines for term time holidays, the highest flight tax in the world and the increase in price of travel during peak dates. Travelzoo will join this campaign and continue to fight the Parent Trap on behalf of all UK families.”

More information can be found at afairtaxonflying.org, or the campaign can be followed on Twitter @ScrapFamilyAPD.

Sourced by Travel Weekly


Delayed air passengers owed £3.2bn in compensation

Not all passengers are claiming for delayed flights Passengers delayed on flights going in and out of the EU have failed to claim GBP3.2 billion owed in compensation, according to new statistics.

In the past decade only 2% of travellers have claimed compensation for late or cancelled flights, passenger rights firm refund.me has said.

EU Regulation was approved in 2004 to secure passenger rights and ensure passengers receive up to GBP490 compensation when a flight leaving or departing the EU is three hours late or more.

However refund.me said more passengers are realising their rights with the amount of unclaimed compensation decreasing in the last three years. Around GBP385m is estimated to have been unclaimed in 2006, which came down to GBP355m in 2012 and GBP240m in 2013.

“We noticed a consistent and deliberate disregard for passenger rights that could result in hundreds of euros for millions of passengers worldwide,” said Eve Buechner, founder and CEO of refund.me, which processed 10,000 claims last year.

She said the decline in numbers was an ‘encouraging trend’ as consumers had previously “accepted that punctuality and care were more suggestions than rights”.

She added more open information from airlines and the introduction of more intermediaries between airlines and passengers had helped more passengers claim.

Sourced by Travel Daily UK


Flights disrupted by early morning fog

Flights disrupted by early morning fogImage via ShutterstockA shroud of fog was disrupting flights across airports in the southeast this morning.

Dense fog in the London area forced the cancellation of flights at London City airport .

Delays were also reported at Heathrow while Gatwick was operating a normal schedule as forecasters warned of a repeat of the poor visibility on Friday morning.

London City said: “Due to low visibility this morning flights are experiencing disruptions.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Flight demand accelerates, says Iata

Aircraft

Demand for flights has continued to “accelerate” during the first few weeks of 2014 helped by improving economic conditions around the world.

International Air Transport Association (Iata) figures show that worldwide passenger traffic in January grew by 8% as measured by total revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs), compared to the same month in 2013. This was up from the 5.2% rise in RPKs recorded during the whole of 2013.

Capacity also rose by 6.7% year-on-year in January while load factor improved by 0.9 percentage points to 78.1%.

Iata chief executive Tony Tyler said: “2014 is off to a strong start, with travel demand accelerating over the healthy results achieved in 2013, in line with stronger growth in advanced economies and emerging market regions.”

European airlines saw international air travel demand rise by 6.4% in January which Iata said was down to “modest” economic improvements in the Eurozone and “rising consumer and business confidence”.

Capacity across the continent increased by 5.9%, as measured by available seat kilometres (ASKs), while load factors picked up by 0.4 points to 77.2%.

The biggest rises in demand came in the Middle East where airlines saw international RPKs soar by 18.1% in January while Asia-Pacific carriers recorded an overall 8% increase in traffic.

North American airlines experienced a 3.5% increase in January while those in Latin America saw a 4.4% rise. African traffic was up by just 2.7% – the slowest rate of growth of any region.

Tyler added: “The second century of commercial aviation has begun on a positive note, with air traffic demand rising in line with generally positive economic indicators.

“While this is in line with an improved overall outlook for 2014, aviation remains highly vulnerable to external shocks. Rising geopolitical tensions around the world have the potential to cast shadows on this optimistic outlook.”

Sourced from TTG Digital


Virgin’s Little Red to reduce Manchester flights

 By Alex McWhirter,

Virgin Atlantic’s Little Red subsidiary will axe one of its four daily flights between Heathrow and Manchester from the start of the summer 2014 schedule.

The airline began its domestic services in spring 2013 after acquiring nine former Bmi slots at Heathrow from British Airways.

From March 30, Little Red plans to operate Heathrow to Manchester at 09.30, 17.10 and 20.10. Return flights from Manchester will depart at 07.50, 12.20 and 18.50.

The current schedule sees four daily flights depart Heathrow at 09.05, 12.20, 16.45 and 20.05. The return services leave Manchester at 07.25, 10.40, 14.15 and 18.20.

Little Red’s domestic network was established to allow Virgin Atlantic to feed regional passengers onto its long-haul network at Heathrow. Flights are operated under contract by Aer Lingus using a single-class A320.

Virgin Atlantic said that the service reduction on Heathrow-Manchester was down to a loss of slots to another carrier, rather than poor demand.

Virgin said the Manchester slots were “loaned from another carrier. We have now had to return these slots to their owner”. The carrier in question has not been named.

Slots to Edinburgh and Aberdeen are unaffected because they were awarded to Virgin Atlantic through an agreement made with the European Commission as part of BA’s takeover of Bmi last year.

Sourced by bbt


Flyers support ban on reclining seats on short-haul flights

By Phil Davies

The majority of travellers want to see an end to reclining seats on short-haul flights, according to a new survey.

91% of people said airlines should either ban or set times for seat reclining, the poll of more than 1,000 travellers by Skyscanner found.

The study found that 43% even felt that long-haul flights should implement set times when passengers are permitted to recline their seat.

Almost a third of those surveyed said a reclined seat had caused them discomfort, and 3% revealed they had even suffered an injury.

Meanwhile, 60% of international cabin crew surveyed said they have been involved in, or witness to, an argument between passengers on the subject of reclined seats.

Psychologist Dr Becky Spelman, clinical director at the Private Therapy Clinic in London’s Harley Street, said: “The strong support for a change in reclined seat procedures makes sense.

“The effect of people reclining their seat can result in various negative emotions such as anger, stress, anxiety, frustration and upset for the passenger behind them. This emotional impact can result in a whole range of unhelpful behaviours, including air rage.

“This is partly because there are two general personality types while travelling. There’s the ‘altruistic soul’, who is considerate of others, and the ‘selfish ego’. The latter of which will look to increase their comfort at the expense of others.”

The survey found that 70% of selfish egos would not be put off reclining their seat even if the person behind was pregnant while 80% would not care if the person behind was elderly or frail.

Women aged 18-24 were the most likely to display altruistic soul tendencies in the survey, while men over the age of 35 were more likely to exhibit selfish ego characteristics.

While negative emotions could be reduced by a fellow passenger asking permission to recline their seat, the study found that a third of passengers are too worried about the reaction they would receive, and most people (64%) have never done so.

“With competing selfish egos and altruistic souls, set times for seat reclining on planes could actually make for an improved experience for passengers” said Dr Spelman.

“Such rules tend to ensure better social cohesion, as people are conditioned to obey boundaries. While these rules place a limit on the personal choice passengers have over their own comfort, people will generally adhere to them, accepting that it is fair. This could lead to a more pleasant flying experience for the majority.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Analysis: Early bookers on the rise

By Ian Taylor

Civil Aviation Authority data suggests a fall in late bookings that confounds a supposed long-term trend. Ian Taylor reports

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) figures challenge the widely held belief that more consumers than ever wait until the last minute to book summer holidays and thereby enjoy lower prices.

Data from the CAA’s risk management department suggests a substantial rise in peak-season prices since 2009, accompanied by an increase in lead-in booking times.

The figures come from forward-booking data supplied to the CAA by tour operators that provide almost 90% of Atol-protected holidays. The figures do not include Flight-Plus sales, which date only from the end of April 2012. There were 17.3 million 
Atol-protected sales in the 12 months to March 2012 and 
18.5 million the previous year.

The proportion of customers booking and travelling in August declined by almost half between 2009 and 2012, down from 14.6% to 7.7%.

Bookings for travel in the same month declined in all months over the period bar January and October. The decline in July between 2009 and 2012 was from 13.2% to 9.6%, in June from 11.2% to 6.7% and in September from 11.5% to 6.8%.

These peak summer months showed year-on-year falls in late bookings each year through the period.

At the same time, the proportion of bookings more than six months in advance rose progressively year on year – most sharply for departures in August, from 30.3% in 2009 to 34.7% in 2012. June saw an increase over the period from 25.4% to 27.7%, July from 23.3% to 25.3% and September from 25.2% to 26.8%.

Winter booking lead-in times moved in the opposite direction, with declines in the percentage booking more than six months in advance from October to January. However, the overall trend – reflected in the 12-month rolling average – showed a clear rise in the proportion of customers booking earlier.

The increase in average prices was even more pronounced – although the CAA data extends only to 2011. It shows a 25% rise in prices for travel in July and August between 2009 and 2011, and increases almost as big in June (24%) and September (23%).

Average holiday prices rose by one-fifth or more in every month except March, when the increase was 12.5%.

Part of the overall rise reflects inflation: the consumer price index rose about 8% over 2010-11. Sales of higher-priced all‑inclusive holidays have also increased. Yet the price increases also reflect a decline in capacity that has mostly hit the bottom end of the market.

Any trend towards earlier bookings within a month would not show up in the CAA figures. However, the increase in the proportion made more than six months before departure and decline in bookings for travel in the same month suggest a pattern. A CAA spokesman described the trends in bookings more than one month but less than six months before travel as “pretty static”.

The Air Travel Insolvency Protection Advisory Committee report in July referred to the CAA data but gave no figures.

Travel journalist Simon Calder sparked anger among agents when he suggested in July that late deals this summer were available for as little as £300 (Travel Weekly, July 25). There may be deals, but industry analyst GfK has reported a sharp fall in holidays sold at below £600.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


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