"Learjet Tax" Delay Rankles UK Carriers

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Airlines in the U.K. are protesting a government decision to delay application of a passenger tax to business aircraft flights until 2013. The Air Passenger Duty is now paid by all airline passengers leaving a U.K. airport and private aircraft are exempt. It currently adds between $15 and $120 to the cost of an airline flight depending on its duration. It's scheduled to go up steadily over the next six years and the government was also planning to apply a heftier version of it to passengers on private aircraft. It's been nicknamed the "Learjet tax." According to the Guardian, the airlines have been lobbying hard to have the tax killed entirely but Tuesday's announcement that the increases will proceed for them and application of the tax will be delayed for private aircraft brought cries of discrimination.

The British Air Transport Association called the delay of the "Learjet tax" unfair and used rhetoric that might sound familiar on the other side of the Atlantic. "It is a year's grace for the wealthy man in the business jet, but for millions of people who cannot afford to fly by business jet, they will have to pay APD increases at twice the rate of inflation from April next year. How is that fair?" wondered BATA CEO Simon Buck. The APD is a serious revenue generator for the British government. It currently rakes in about $3 billion and that will rise to more than $4 billion with the scheduled increases and the eventual implementation of the business jet tax.