Ryanair has been forced to back down after a heated stand-off against Chancellor Gordon Brown over paying an air passenger duty bill (APD) of more than £2m.
Brown announced plans in December to increase APD from £5 to £10 per passenger from February 1. The tax, which it is claimed will go to helping the environment, applies to any passenger who has booked a flight before the announcement was made.
The airline had refused to pay or pass on the charges to passengers, but after taking legal advice, Ryanair has been forced into an embarrassing climb-down. It will now have to e-mail passengers to notify them that they will have to pay an extra £5.
Ryanair spokesman says: “We have taken legal advice and found there is little we can do. We will be e mailing all passengers within the next few days to inform them that greedy Gordon is forcing us to be his tax collector. Each passenger will have an extra £5 per journey taken from their credit and debit cards.”
Earlier this month, Ryanair chief executive Michael O¹Leary told Marketing Week that he was not prepared to pay the APD or pass it on to passengers who had booked flights prior to the announcement (MW January 4). The bill came to £2.275m for 455,000 passengers.
The Ryanair spokesman adds: “The £1bn which the exchequer will pocket from this increase will not be spent on the environment. If Mr Brown really wanted to address the causes of climate change he would not be focusing on aviation, which causes less than 2% of all carbon emissions, but road travel and power stations.”
Rival airlines, such as easyJet, say they plan to e-mail passengers to ask for the extra £5 charge.