Four airlines have joined forces to launch a campaign calling for the UK's air passenger duty (APD) to be scrapped.

EasyJet, International Airlines Group (IAG), Ryanair and Virgin Atlantic today wrote a joint letter to UK chancellor George Osborne, in which they called on the UK government to abolish APD because "its negative impact on the UK economy is outweighing any benefit from the revenue raised".

The chief executives of the four airlines argue that the effects of APD are similar to those of a similar tax in the Netherlands, which was introduced in 2008 only to be abolished the following year owing to its detrimental impact on the country's economy.

Airlines believe that when aviation is included in the European Union's Emissions Trading System (ETS) from 1 January 2012, APD should become a thing of the past.

"We take our responsibility to the environment very seriously and have taken steps to reduce our impact," the four airlines said in the letter.

"We support emissions trading in principle but a combination of both APD and ETS when it is introduced is unsustainable."

The government announced in March that APD rates would be frozen until April 2012. However, it has proposed increasing APD for short- and medium-haul flights of up to 2,000mi (3,200km) to £16 ($25) from the current £12 in the next fiscal year.

The government had been looking into scrapping APD in favour of a per-aircraft tax, but those plans were dropped earlier this year.

APD rates are set in four bands. The rate for passengers in economy on flights between 2,001mi and 4,000mi is £60, rising to £75 on flights with a distance of between 4,001mi and 6,000mi. APD on flights longer than 6,000mi is currently set at £85 for economy class passengers.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news