The UK government's plans to extend air passenger duty to cover business jets have caused anger among the sector's operators, which are concerned about having to pay local environmental taxes in addition to paying for their emissions under the European Union's emissions trading scheme.

London Executive Aviation managing director George Galanopoulos wants the UK government's levy to apply to foreign operators in order to maintain a level playing field. "What is important from our point of view is that if there is going to be a tax, it has to be applicable to everyone, not just UK operators," he says.

The European Business Aviation Association slammed the move when it was announced as part of the UK Budget in March, warning that it would persuade aviation interests to move offshore and some companies to move their offices outside the UK.

EBAA chief operating officer Pedro Vicente Azua believes that if each EU member state were to introduce its own environmental levy in addition to the emissions trading scheme, it would make life very difficult for business aviation operators.

"We need to have a central environmental duty," says Azua. "If we are going to be subject to ETS, we can't have 27 separate taxes and duties as well - for small emitters this is absolutely impossible. Yes, you need to pay environmental duties, but you have to be very careful how much you impose."

If the APD is charged for the number of passengers carried, rather than per seat, Galanopoulos says it "won't be so bad". The UK government plans to hold a consultation on its proposal and says in the Budget that it will "seek views on how this change should be implemented".

Galanopoulos concedes that while the government's plan is "not good news", operators will "have to accept it and get on with it".

Source: Flight International