United Kingdom businesses are being encouraged to sign a petition calling for the reform of a controversial air travel levy.

Air Passenger Duty (APD) was introduced in November 2009 and has been branded a “self-imposed barrier to trade” by a number of travel industry leaders.

The tax is added to the cost of every ticket bought for flights departing UK airports, and is priced depending on the distance of the journey. 

The A Fair Tax on Flying lobby group was formed three years ago to lead the campaign opposing the stealth tax.

Until now the group has focused most of its attention on the leisure travel sector, while a consumer petition last year generated more than 200,000 signatories from the general public.

However, the petition launched this week is calling on companies to point to politicians that APD is causing sustained economic damage.

The GTMC, a travel industry body that counts 40 of the UK leading TMCs among its membership, has opposed APD since its inception.

This week its chief executive publicly threw the organization’s weight behind this latest step in the movement.

“As the voice of the business traveller the GTMC is wholly supportive of A Fair Tax on  Flying,” he said.

“Our members are all too aware of how much of a burden APD is to those companies travelling to do the deals that stimulate jobs and growth in the UK. It is vital that the perspective of business is heard in Westminster and that government charts a course that removes self-imposed barriers to trade.”

More than a dozen chambers of commerce across the UK have joined the campaign as part of this latest push.

In the leisure sector, Mark Tanzer, the chief executive of Abta (formerly known as the Association of British Travel Agents), was equally supportive of attempts to involve the business community.

“Last year our campaign was all about demonstrating to MPs just how many of their constituents were being affected by APD. But APD doesn’t just affect consumers; it’s also having a major impact on businesses – both those who work directly within aviation and tourism and those for whom international travel is crucial to expansion and growth,” he said.

Airport Operators Association chief executive Darren Caplan said: “21 out of 27 EU countries pay no APD at all. It’s now time for UK businesses to stand up and be counted, as our eye-wateringly high levels of APD already mean UK businesses pay the highest passenger tax on flying in the world – and this is not disputed by anyone in government.”

While death and taxes may be inevitable, what’s inexcusable is taxing an industry to death.   Unfortunately, many policymakers throughout the world see travel and tourism, and particularly aviation, as a place to pile on unfair tax burdens that sap the vitality of an industry that contributes so much to global economic competitiveness, growth and job creation.

The UK government, though its Air Passenger Duty, is solidifying its World Economic Forum (March 2013) ranking as 139th out of 140 countries in term of competitive aviation and airport taxes.

Even as the UK government seeks to welcome more tourists to Britain, it is rolling up the welcome mat with additional taxes on flying that are already among the highest in the world.   The time has come for the UK to reverse its misguided aviation tax policy.

Campaigners are still asking for signatories to attach to a letter that will be sent to George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, later this summer.

Sign the petition here: afairtaxonflying.org/business