The UK government has “missed an opportunity” to further support the decarbonisation of air travel in its latest budget, which was unveiled on Wednesday (15 March).
UK chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a new £20 billion clean energy package during his statement, which will be used to incentivise the development of carbon capture and storage technologies over the next 20 years.
Drew Crawley, president of American Express Global Business Travel, said this move “fails to provide vital support to drive production and adoption of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)”.
“The Transport Select Committee believes SAF is the most viable option for the immediate reduction of aviation emissions. More action is therefore required if the government intends to deliver on its Jet Zero promises,” added Crawley.
“We need sustained, collective action across public and private sector. That’s why Amex GBT will continue to develop its landmark SAF programme.”
Michael Begley, managing director of meeting rooms specialist venuedirectory.com, said: “As a committed advocate of increasing sustainability, I was disappointed that there was so little new investment to help us save the planet and nothing that would directly encourage more sustainable behaviour in the our industry.”
UK travel association ABTA said there were some “welcome measures” in the budget that would benefit travel businesses and employees.
“For example, a big challenge for the travel industry’s recovery has been the ability to recruit and retain staff,” said ABTA’s chief executive Mark Tanzer. “The government’s announcements around childcare and helping people return to work should help both current staff and those who might wish to join the industry.”
But Tanzer added it was “disappointing” that the government was pressing ahead with previously announced inflationary increases in Air Passenger Duty (APD) rates from April 2024.
“Not only is this bad news for travellers, as they have to bear the cost of this rise through their air ticket, but also UK competitiveness,” stressed Tanzer. “The UK already has amongst the highest APD in the world and increasing this further contradicts with the message that we want to grow the economy.”
APD rates for domestic flights will rise from £6.50 to £7 for economy seats in April 2024, while the rate for short-haul international journeys (band A) will remain at £13 and the two long-haul bands (B and C) will both go up by £1 to £88 and £92 respectively.