MPs: Axe APD during school holidays

Education secretary Michael Gove and Lib Dem MP John Hemming are calling for the government to cut or scrap Air Passenger Duty during peak times.

The government has claimed that prices are high because of international demand at peak time, giving the indication that nothing can be done to force the travel companies to cut prices. As a solution, Hemming suggested reducing the tax on flights as parents would be less likely to risk a fine if travelling was cheaper during school holidays. Air Passenger Duty or APD, which generates £3 billion for the Treasury each year, can add £376 to the cost of long haul and £52 to short haul flights.

In yesterday’s parliamentary debate, education secretary Michael Gove has insisted that parents should not take their children out of school, but lobby the school to be flexible with term dates. He said that by varying term times across different schools, parents would be able to take advantage of the lower prices. The government has made it easier for school to be flexible with term dates, but it’s up to them to make the changes.

Parents have been paying high prices to travel abroad during the school holidays for years. However, many chose to book their holiday when schools were back to benefit from the cheaper prices. The difference now is that if they choose to take their children away during term time, they run the risk of not only paying for the holiday, travel insurance, currency and so on, but also a hefty fine on their return.

Annoyed with being ‘punished for doing the right thing’, one parent’s Facebook rant has gone viral and sparked a huge campaign to force the travel companies to lower their prices. As a result of the post, an online petition has gathered momentum, attracting over 170,000 signatures and sending the case to parliament for debate.

An exclusive ITV News poll has found that two thirds of Brits don’t agree with the cost of travel during school holidays. Elsewhere, only 13% of adults thought that he current prices were ‘fair’, according to a ComRes survey.

Date Created: 26 February 2014

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