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Airport Taxes

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th March 1997.

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Photo of Martin Smyth Martin Smyth , Belfast South 12:00 am, 13th March 1997

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many EU countries levy (a) higher and (b) lower airport taxes than the United Kingdom. [18519]

Photo of Mr Philip Oppenheim Mr Philip Oppenheim , Amber Valley

The total tax a passenger pays can include embarkation taxes, passenger service charges and security charges, as well as VAT-type taxes.

On the basis of a £120 ticket for a domestic flight, the charge in Germany will be £27.61 in comparison with the £10 payable in the UK after November this year. Greece, Austria, France, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Portugal and the Netherlands also have higher charges; France, Luxembourg, Denmark and Ireland have lower charges.

Photo of Martin Smyth Martin Smyth , Belfast South

Is not the Minister forgetting that airports in Germany and elsewhere are Government owned, so their taxes are hidden? A fair comparison shows that United Kingdom airports are charging two to three times more. In addition, does not the fuel form show the number of children? Could not that be reconciled with the number of children taxed rather than taking £5 million to £6 million in a tax on children?

Photo of Mr Philip Oppenheim Mr Philip Oppenheim , Amber Valley

I did point out that the tax in Germany is higher. Landing charges in the UK tend to be much lower than those on the continent, partly because we have privatised our airports which are therefore now more efficient. The hon. Gentleman's point concerning children is valid, and it is often made. Children under two who are carried by their parents are not charged, but anyone occupying a seat is charged. A cut-off point for children aged 10 or 12 would be almost impossible to administer because airline staff and ticket sellers would have to check children's age. However, I sympathise with the hon. Gentleman's general point.