Walsh and Branson attack UK aviation policy's effect on growth

Willie Walsh: chief executive of BA and IAG
Willie Walsh: chief executive of BA and IAG

British Airway's Willie Walsh has given a damning verdict of the UK's current aviation policy, which includes the continued rise in Air Passenger Duty (APD), calling it an "unholy mess".

Walsh, the chief executive of British Airways and Iberia holding group, IAG, was speaking at the British Chambers of Commerce conference in London yesterday (15 March).

Walsh said the UK has "no aviation policy to speak of" and accused the UK of "falling behind" in developing international air routes "to all the regions in the world that will power our growth in the future".

He said: "At a time when Air Passenger Duty is already the highest aviation tax anywhere in the world, the Government has increased it by twice the level of inflation.

"Families are now facing taxes of up to £500 by 2016 to fly to some of the most popular holiday destinations."

Walsh said APD is "choking off jobs" in the aviation industry, as well as hotels, restaurants and attractions.

He said: "In the past three months of the year, business investment fell by 5.6%. It's little wonder we have such poor growth when we do so little to make it happen."

Walsh's strong comments come days after rival airline-owner Richard Branson told The Sunday Telegraph that Virgin Atlantic is focusing on expansion in America and Australia, causing the UK to miss out of £5bn worth of investment, due to the Coalition Government's aviation policy.

He said: "We can't wait for another aviation review. Virgin would be willing to invest £5bn in expansion at Heathrow with new routes and take on thousands of new people [if the Government reversed its position].

"Sometimes brave politicians need to change their mind and we need brave politicians on both sides of the political spectrum to put the country before party."

BA's Walsh, Virgin Atlantic's Steve Ridgeway, easyJet's Carolyn McCall and Ryanair's Michael O’Leary rallied together this week on the subject of APD, issuing a second letter to chancellor George Osborne urging him to forgo the planned increases in the tax over the next four years, expected to be announced next month.

In a rare move, the heads of each airline said in a joint statement: "These endless cumulative increases in APD are pricing families out of flying, both from and to the UK.

"That means fewer visitors to the UK, which destroys jobs in our tourism, aviation and hospitality industries and chokes off opportunities for young people at a time of exceptional youth unemployment."

Follow Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith on Twitter @LoullaMae_ES


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer
Mumsnet admits users' emails and passwords accessed via Heartbleed bug