Thursday, 1 February 2007

Double Levy No Legal Basis?

Although a doubling of passenger duty costs have been introduced today, a legal expert has insisted that passengers are entitled to refuse to pay the extra amount.

Duty for a short-haul flight rises from £5 to £10 while long-haul flight duty goes up from £20 to £40.

Many disgruntled passengers are expected to challenge the extra costs and a flight industry insider has described the scenario as a potential nightmare.

Chancellor Gordon Brown has been heavily criticised for this new levy, which has been seen as a retrospective tax.

And, although it is the airlines who are legally required to pay the tax, Virgin, Ryanair and Easyjet will be passing the extra cost onto their customers. Only British Airways have insisted that they will absorb the cost.

A leading commercial barrister commissioned by the Conservatives to analyse the new tax, said that it had no legal basis because the Chancellor had not passed it through the House of Commons. He said that the tax would not be legal before it has been approved in the Finance Bill, which is not expected until April.

Airlines insist that the small print allows them to pass increases in tax on to passengers, but Mr Jack said that small print does not legally apply if the tickets were bought before December 7, the date of Mr Brown’s announcement.

Tour operator First Choice was among the first to say it would challenge the Air Passenger Duty increase, which it says has cost travel agents about £45m.

No comments: