EasyJet boss Andy Harrison said the following to Radio 4’s Today programme this morning:

"Domestic air travel is already very highly taxed… EasyJet’s average domestic fare is £27, of which £10 is already air passenger duty (APD), which represents a tax of well over 50%.

If you widen the debate out to the regions, to Northern Ireland, to Scotland, to the North East, rail is simply a slow, expensive, and often non-existent alternative…

The critical thing is to get people flying in new aircraft.  The Tories are talking about taxing gas-guzzling cars, but the way APD works at the moment is that people pay the same whether they are flying in an old aircraft, a new aircraft, a half-empty aircraft or a full aircraft.  We think the green agenda is important but we need to have intelligent, effective taxation not some of this tax which is quite simply the result of sloppy thinking."

He noted that easyJet was already paying £150 million in APD – four times its carbon cost according to Government statistics.

Noon: More below from Easyjet:

"The Quality of Life report is factually wrong, arrogantly London-centric and would tax the holidays of hard-working families.

The report consigns the 50 million Britons not living in or around London to the status of second-class citizens for whom time is considered an unimportant commodity and the dream of high-speed rail is contradicted by the nightmare of today’s reality.

The UK already taxes flying more heavily than any other European country.  easyJet would welcome the proposal to replace Air Passenger Duty with an aircraft emissions charge and to scrap the current system that taxes family holidays, but not private jets.

But adding VAT to domestic air travel would simply put up the cost of family holidays, without providing any link to the CO2 emissions of a particular flight. It would also threaten the existence of many domestic air routes from communities all over the UK.

The report is simply wrong to claim that trains are taxed more than flights at present. Diesel trains, such as the Virgin Voyager, emit more CO2 per passenger than easyJet flights per passenger and electric trains pay no fuel duty, there is no VAT on rail tickets and there is no equivalent of Air Passenger Duty – which already adds £20 for every return air journey in the UK.

Believing that rail journeys are a viable substitute for short-haul air travel is an argument of the metropolitan London elite. For those living in the West Country, Wales, Scotland and many other parts of the UK the train is inconvenient, slow and expensive. Anybody suggesting that people in Northern Ireland can take the train must be living in cloud-cuckoo-land."

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