Cameron calls for tax on frequent fliers

Conservative leader David Cameron will today propose tax hikes for airline passengers to try and combat climate change.

He will make a keynote speech setting out Conservative thinking on environmental issues and is expected to suggest introducing VAT or fuel duty on domestic flights and a “green” air miles scheme which target frequent fliers.

Britons would be able take one short-haul flight a year at the standard rate of tax but subsequent flights would be taxed at a higher rate.

Shadow chancellor George Osborne said: “That way we have the maximum environmental effect and we also don’t tax people out of their one foreign holiday a year.”

He added it was necessary “to take the tough long-term decisions to tackle climate change”.

But airlines have criticised the plan with British Airways describing it as “an extremely blunt instrument in terms of reducing carbon emissions”.

Transport secretary Douglas Alexander said the Tories had not thought through the plans.

“At the most basic level the taxation of aviation fuel is governed by international law and cannot be changed at a whim,” he said.
Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vince Cable said the Tories “have not committed themselves to saying how the tax will be applied – we say there should be a tax on the aircraft, not the passenger”.
“They will not say how much they expect to raise, and they will not say what they expect to do with the revenue.”

Chancellor Gordon Brown will also make a speech on the environment today and is expected to emphasise the importance of international co-operation to tackle the problem of climate change.