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You can take the skies away from us…

Not only can but already have done.

Passengers will have to pay up to 55 per cent more tax on flights from Monday when the Air Passenger Duty hike comes into effect.
Despite protests from airlines and countries who believe the tax banding system is unfair, the increase will come into effect, potentially pushing the price of family holidays up by hundreds of pounds.

Now my objection to this is an objection in principle. They might as well piss on the graves of Orville and Wilbur who of course believed aviation to be a good thing. We keep on hearing from government about how we live in a fully connected globalised world. Well, I grok that obviously because I couldn’t take a posidrive to the Cats server without going to Queensland. This appalling tax-hike has just made that a little less likely and made the world for the first time since Richard Trevithick invented a moving kettle rather a bigger place. At least for ordinary folks.

Now in case you’re wondering this would apply to Cats coming over here too – he’d have to pay his bit for the return portion of his flight. Yes, dear reader visiting Britain from abroad is also becoming more expensive and especially so for long-haul tourists who drop the most monies. Of course they do! Do I have to explain why?

This is madness. Tourism is a major part of our economy.

It is also madness compounded by slap-dash incompetence (or to give it it’s short title, “government”. Those bands are worked out based on the distance of the destination country’s capital city and not how far you actually go. So, the heavily tourist dependent Caribbean nations are not happy. They are not happy that the entire USA squeeks in at Band B whereas they’re Band C. And I mean the entire USA – including Hawaii and Alaska.

A few sundry points…

From the Mail Q&A:

What happens if I already have a flight booked? Will I be charged extra?
You already have been. If you are flying after November 1, the extra tax will have already been added on to your bill.

Is that legal? Certainly it’s neither fair nor right.

Are children exempt?
Afraid not. Anyone who takes up a seat on a plane will be charged, no matter what their age.

Isn’t travel supposed to broaden the mind? When I was a kid in the ’80s foreign holidays were common-place for me and my contemporaries (and I went to a school that was generally income-wise pretty standard lower middle-class) so I do wonder for the future. I mean really is this a “Green” tax or just a way to keep the Tarquins and Cressidas from mingling with the Daves and Debbies on the beach? We tasted mass-market air-travel then and really got our teeth into it with EasyJet et. al. that made flying half-way across the continent cheaper than getting a train from Newcastle to London but they hated it. This fixed level tax (like the Scottish minimum price per alcohol unit) is disproportionately attacking the less well-off. Our self-appointed “elite” (now that’s a fucking misnomer!) are just pulling the drawbridge up. Perhaps more seriously they do much the same with housing.

So will this be the last tax increase for a while?
Unfortunately there may be more on the way. The current government wants to double the revenue it earns from aviation tax in the next four years from £28.9bn to more than £56bn. Of course, extra costs to airlines eventually find their way to customers too.

That’s near enough a grand for every man, woman and child in this country! It’s appalling. The older I get the more I look back on the ’80s and early ’90s as a time of progress in many ways. We now seem to be getting less for more (apart from in consumer electronics which carries on apace because Whitehall wouldn’t know an HDMI connector if you shoved it up their collective arses). There are though moves afoot to censor the internet via the juggernaut of peadostyria.

Oh, and it shall get even worse than that. We haven’t even fully implemented carbon-trading schemes yet.

Goodbye skies! Nice knowing you. The upper-air shall belong to our Lords and Masters leaving their righteous contrails. It’s feudalism with electricity – until the power goes off. It’s John Lumic scheming schemes in his dirigible high above the lumpen proletariat. It’s Plato’s “Noble Lie”*. It is power and continuity Not chaos and invention. It is small “c” conservativism in a self-fulfilling way. Of course it’s easy to see the proles as “lumpen” if by your own lights you prevent them being any different**. Our “elites” fear change. They’ve got it all right and they fear change. They certainly have feared “ordinary” people getting on aircraft and going abroad and seeing different things. They want to maintain a status quo. T’was ever thus and they only pretended it would change. Look at the composition of the Tory cabinet. Look at the fact the Labour leadership elections came down to Millidumb and Millidumber. Forget the Lib Dems – I have. Look at what they all did to Freddie Laker and are now doing to Stelios Haji-Ioannou. Know Your Place! Ordinary people going to America! It must be stopped!

What ultimately they are doing is redefining flying as a luxury which in the C21st it shouldn’t be. That for me is a betrayal of civilization and that is a crime of absolute vileness unquantifiable.

If I may make so bold it is the same mentality which arguably delayed the Industrial Revolution hundreds if not well over a thousand years. The status quo “benefits” the unimaginative rich. They lack the “vision thing”. Perhaps the apotheosis of the industrial revolution was the Model-T Ford (they hate cars – apart from their own of course – which they grudgingly “need”***). (oddly enough the band Status Quo have lived up to their name by knocking out the same old for perhaps thirty-five years). But Ford’s greatest innovation was not the production line but the idea that the guys on the production line making his motors could afford to buy one. That is the consumer society. That was more revolutionary than anything Lenin thought of (and it spiked the wheel of Karl’s Penny-Farthing so badly he’s still trying to disentangle that badger sequestrating beard from the spokes) and according to our “elites” a very bad thing. Just listen to almost any speech by our own dear Prince of Wails. That’s the mentality and he has the RAF to fly him around. His brother Andy even has them to helicopter him up to Scotland when he fancies a round of golf!

As I said this is an objection in principle. They say a picture says a thousand words. Well, how many words does this image encompass…

“The desire to fly is an idea handed down to us by our ancestors who, in their grueling travels across trackless lands in prehistoric times, looked enviously on the birds soaring freely through space, at full speed, above all obstacles, on the infinite highway of the air.”

- Orville Wright

The Wright Brothers saw flight as the future. Our “elites” see it as for the past (apart from for them, obviously, because they are so much more important aren’t they?). That image from Kill Devil Hills defines all that is positive about the C20th for me****. Don’t get me started on Apollo. My father was in his mid 20s when Neil and Buzz (and Mike) took a bit of an excursion and then… nothing. In my late 30s NASA gave up on manned space-flight for the foreseeable. Good. Let’s see what SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and all the rest can do! If they are allowed.

We’re running to go backwards.

I know this brings it down from the Götterdämmerung I was working myself up to but… If we take (and I do) the most heavily hit flights as those to the Caribbean and Australasia then are we really talking tourist flights as such? I doubt it. I once flew from Gatwick to Atlanta (in steerage) wedged between two “Lilt Ladies” who were visiting relatives in Jamaica (changing ‘planes at Atlanta – a major hub). I have close relatives in Victoria, Australia. That’s not exactly a “jaunt” is it? My Australian relatives keep in contact in a way that when my Great-Aunt went over there (with husband and kids – she was the catch – being a nurse) as a “ten pound pom” in the early ’60s is unimaginable. Do we really want to lose that? It was staggeringly expensive Christmas phonecall for years and then… It wasn’t and then Orville Wright’s “infinite highway of the air” became, well, affordable. Yet now they are making it really expensive for people to keep in physical touch with their families. This is not what the Wright’s wanted and it is not what I grew-up with. It is also not what Caribbean families with spurs in both Birmingham and St Kitts want. Or my family. Or quite possibly yours.

Orv and Will wanted to bring the world closer together and dear gods were they not magnificent? This isn’t. This is just mean.

I’m soon off on a flight from Liverpool (John Lennon – “Above Us Only Sky” (ergghh!)) Airport to Katowice via the evil, evil Wizz Air who provide prole-flights (how very dare they!) and drown polar-bear cubs to keep the turbofans running*****.

We still dream. We (all of us) are the true elite. They are just neo-feudalists.

The last I heard (this is GBP) they were talking about a railway from London to Birmingham (HS2) costing GBP 36 billion! Yet wouldn’t fund Skylon a GBP 100 million. Typical. Utterly typical of the imagination Fail. JAXA is reckoning on maybe GBP 10 billion for a Space Elevator. LEO or the Bullring (which has quite a large NEXT but then where doesn’t?) – your choice. Again it’s just status quo. (And graft, obviously).

We do a disservice to the railway pioneers to be playing the same game 200 years later.

Time to get jiggy! Whilst it’s still (sort-of) allowed.

Per Ardua Ad Astra!

* Plato’s Republic was designed to promote stasis.
**The additional fixed costs here will not influence the truly well-heeled (indeed the Greener of those will feel good for they have bought an indulgence from Pope Albertus Gorefice). Anyway they could easily spend the top-end ADP on lunch on any continent without thinking about it so it is a mere bagatelle to them.
***”Is your journey really necessary?” Their journeys always are. And your journey isn’t. Ever.
****I’ve got a storming pre-Christmas post (17th December) set-up. I would have posted before but sometimes there are just fixed points…
*****At a nominal 70% occupancy an A380 does about 80 passenger miles per gallon. Try that in your Toyota Pious! The 787 does even better. And could I get to America in a Toyota Pious? But that is the point. I’m not meant to for I am not of the elect. I’m just a bloke with the money to do it at market rates and that’s such a terrible thing it must be stopped. I mean who knows where it might end?

23 Comments

  1. View from the Solent says:

    Re: “* Plato’s Republic was designed to promote stasis.”

    My reading of it suggests to me that ‘statism’ in it’s worst form (if there is such a thing as a not-worst form) was his goal.

  2. berenike says:

    Witamy w Polsce :D

  3. berenike says:

    One of the many great things about living here is that moving around the country does not cost more than getting to it. Unlike the UK.

    Perhaps that’s why they’re putting up airport taxes? To avoid the disbelieving shock everyone gets when they’ve paid for their Wizzair flight to the UK, and then see that the train ticket for a two hour journey costs more than the air ticket did.

  4. JuliaM says:

    “Isn’t travel supposed to broaden the mind?”

    Yes, which is yet another reason why the Fabians are so keen to restrict it to….well, themselves.

  5. John Galt says:

    Sorry, but this is exactly the reason why those of us who use regional airports are now shifting our business to Amsterdam (Eastbound – Asia and Austrialia) and Dublin (Westbound – USA and Caribean).

    Yes, it means we have to take a low cost carrier and pay the Band A APD and suffer the time and inconvenience of an additional transit before I pick up my second leg via Singapore Airlines, but I’d rather do that than pay George Osbourn another £85 worth of Danegeld.

    Fuck ‘em.

    Yes, I know that technically if I take a Ryanair flight to Amsterdam and then a Singapore Airlines flight to Changi within the same 24-hours I am evading APD, but that makes it even more worthwhile.

    Its one of those taxes which you should shout from the rooftops about evading.

    It is also useful to remember WHY the Dutch ditched their Air Passenger Tax as of July 1st 2009.

    “The tax was expected to raise around €300 million ($395m) a year but a commissioned report concluded that it would cost the Dutch economy €1.3 billion ($1.7bn) in lost revenue.”

    Anyone fancy a bet on how steep the Laffer Curve for UK APD is?

    HM Treasury = Luddite Cunts.

  6. Paul Lockett says:

    “This fixed level tax is disproportionately attacking the less well-off.”

    Not really. The less well-off don’t tend to fly as much as the well-off, so the impact isn’t comparable minimum alcohol pricing. On top of that, economy travel attracts a lower level of duty.

    The real absurdity of the tax is that it is levied per passenger, not per aircraft.

  7. NickM says:

    Go for it John!

    When I lived in Newcastle my hub airport was Schiphol. It’s a bit different in Cheshire because Ringway is a almost a hub.

    berenike,
    So you live in Poland? If you can hack the lingo (which is completely impenetrable to moi) then excellent! A mighty fine country (thanks Roonie and Lech and all the rest). I’ll be staying with my sister-in-law and her boyf and whilst Polish wages aren’t what UK ones are but gods in their pantheon it’s cheaper so it evens out. Hell’s teeth they have (in a small Silesian town) HD CATV (and the HD was like 10 zloty a month (a lot less than Sky would charge me here – that’s under 3 quid!)) and the broadband costs next to nothing. Having said all of that and whilst every “street Pole” was very friendly anyone in uniform still acts like Joe Stalin isn’t dead. Polish railways are something else. I was only asking where the taxi rank was… Shutter comes down.

  8. NickM says:

    Paul,
    I disagree. This really hits less well-off families doing long-haul right in the goolies. Your point about the less well off flying less begs the question does it not? Why shouldn’t they? This is the C21st. Flying should not be a luxury. Hundreds of thousands of pilots, engineers, flight attendants, ground crew, technicians and all the rest have made it so. Why should government make it otherwise except through sheer malice? My first ever flight was on a Dan Air 737 to Spain when I was a kid. They let me up into the cockpit (thanks to my Dad for asking but imagine that now!) but now (I forget how many flights later) it’s just getting on a bus with wings. So I repudiate your argument entirely. If (relatively) long distance air-travel financially embarrasses the train and coach operators then well, “compete or die”. They can’t compete so…

    Anyway, don’t you get a bit of thrill when the pilot fires-up the fans and then you rotate and are doing something that tens of thousands of years of knapping flints turns into a couple of hundred tons of duralumin bites the air? We go to way back when and yet that dream has only been realised and made commonplace on the very cusp of living memory. Is that not magnificent?

    I have a morbid fear of heights. I was fine paragliding off Key West (how did I get there from Manchester?) because I know my fluids. I understand gravity so I fear heights. But I also understand the Kutta–Joukowski theorem.

    The Earth is the cradle of humanity, but mankind cannot stay in the cradle forever.
    -Konstantin Tsiolkovsky

    Is that just for the rich? Not on my watch.

    The real absurdity of the tax is that it exists at all.

  9. Paul Lockett says:

    “Your point about the less well off flying less begs the question does it not? Why shouldn’t they?”

    Because they have less money and it isn’t a day to day priority. That’s how a market economy works and its the best system we’ve come up with so far.

    “Anyway, don’t you get a bit of thrill when the pilot fires-up the fans and then you rotate and are doing something that tens of thousands of years of knapping flints turns into a couple of hundred tons of duralumin bites the air?”

    Yes, but in this context, the question is irrelevant toss-pottery. Economic effects are not determined by what gives me a thrill.

  10. John Galt says:

    @Paul Lockett:

    “Because they have less money and it isn’t a day to day priority. That’s how a market economy works and its the best system we’ve come up with so far.”

    However, what we are talking about is not a market mechanism, it is a tax and therefore a political / regulatory mechanism.

    Although the tax does have a notional ‘progressive’ element in that those electing to purchase a better class of ticket pay more tax (i.e. this tax band is optional), I would argue that the lower level is regressive as it is fixed at a level which everyone MUST PAY and takes no account of income.

  11. Chalcedon says:

    That’s an el cheapo flight to Schipol and a longhaul flight to the US or wherever on KLM. We are badly overtaxed in the UK

  12. Sam Duncan says:

    You’re missing the point, Paul. Now the less-well-off won’t be able to take the few flights they used to. And that’s what this is about: it’s not a revenue raising measure, aimed at the people who can swallow hard and pony up; it’s putting flight out of reach for those who can’t.

    “Because they have less money and it isn’t a day to day priority.”

    So because it’s not “a day to day priority”, they should be prevented from having it at all by increased taxation? Them’s dirigiste words, boy.

    “That’s how a market economy works and its the best system we’ve come up with so far.”

    We’re talking about punitive taxation. What does that have to do with a market economy?

    In the past, some people, by saving carefully, have been able to afford to fly abroad. Now, some of them can’t, because the government has slapped another £60 on the price (not to mention the massive increase in the price of a passport over the last decade). That’s not a market.

    “Economic effects are not determined by what gives me a thrill.”

    Au contraire. Of course economic effects are determined by what gives people a thrill. I’d argue it’s one of the most important determinants of economic value there is. If it weren’t, the alcohol industry would be up the spout, there’d be no need for a War on Drugs, and sex wouldn’t sell. Why were people who could barely afford it taking foreign holidays in the first place? People value nice things that make them happy more than ordinary things that only satisfy their needs. Why do some people – and this isn’t necessarily aimed at you, Paul – find this simple idea so hard to accept? Is it because human whim is somehow “irrational” or “unscientific”?

  13. Bod says:

    Pigouvian Tax is Pigouvian.

    Turn the dial until the desired social outcome is met.

    Lock the dial in place to keep the untermenschen in their place.

  14. John Galt says:

    “But the proles, if only they could somehow become conscious of their own strength. would have no need to conspire. They needed only to rise up and shake them selves like a horse shaking off flies. If they chose they could blow the Party to pieces tomorrow morning. Surely sooner or later it must occur to them to do it?

    1984, Chapter 7 – George Orwell

    Personally, I’d quite like the ‘proles’ to rise up and give our political elite a bloody nose, the problem is that the real ‘proles’ have their noses firmly stuck to the grindstone trying to work themselves out of this recession. You notice that it is only the middle class and the welfare class that are protesting in the OccupyWhatever movement.

    If you effectively prevent those in the lower income groups from going for their two weeks in Marbella by introducing financial penalties for reasons they don’t agree with how long do you think that is going to last?

    I doubt that a political party would get many votes by campaigning to repeal Air Passenger Duty, but you never know. It might just put Labour over the top in the next election – so it might be worth a punt, dog whistling to the ‘proles’.

  15. John Galt says:

    Apologies – for Marbella replace Benidorm.

  16. NickM says:

    Interesting point John,
    My take is it isn’t seen as a vote winner because it is about going abroad and therefore in some vague and indefinable sense unpatriotic. Anyway, having been to both Marbella and Benidorm I can whole-heartedly say I prefer the later. I’m not saying it’s great but it knocks spots off Blackpool…

  17. Paul Lockett says:

    John Galt: “However, what we are talking about is not a market mechanism, it is a tax and therefore a political / regulatory mechanism.”

    No, I am talking about a market mechanism. My point was that, irrespective of the political / regulatory mechanism, air travel generally wouldn’t be part of the standard expenditure of those on the breadline.

    Even if you take the political / regulatory mechanism into account, as air travel tends to be highly discretionary, the higher the rate of tax, the less likely it is to fall on the poor.

    All in all, it shows that the idea that APD is some kind of regressive assault on the impoverished is nonsense.

  18. Paul Lockett says:

    “So because it’s not “a day to day priority”, they should be prevented from having it at all by increased taxation?”

    That’s just a pitiful attempt to put words in my mouth. My comment was about the economic effects, not a moral judgement.

    “We’re talking about punitive taxation. What does that have to do with a market economy?”

    Try re-reading what I actually wrote and what it was in response to.

    “Au contraire. Of course economic effects are determined by what gives people a thrill.”

    That’s what we call a straw man. My point was that the effect of MY personal like or dislike of flying has no bearing on the underlying effects of APD. Your comment is that the combined like and dislikes of everybody are what determines value. Those two comments have a number of words in common, but the are completely separate, so, your comment is valid (as is the point of a straw man), but wholly irrelevant.

    “People value nice things that make them happy more than ordinary things that only satisfy their needs. Why do some people – and this isn’t necessarily aimed at you, Paul – find this simple idea so hard to accept? Is it because human whim is somehow “irrational” or “unscientific”?”

    I don’t accept it because, from my experience, it is wrong. I value nice things that make me happy more than ordinary things that only satisfy my needs, only if my needs are satisfied. If my needs aren’t satisfied, the value of the latter rapidly overtakes the value of the former.

    As before, I don’t actually see the point in your question, as it has no relevance to my earlier comment.

  19. John Galt says:

    Sorry Paul – I ain’t buying it.

  20. Paul Marks says:

    Will David Cameron (and the rest of the polticial class) take up video conferenceing (or whatnot) rather than using an aircraft to go to overseas?

    No – I thought not.

    The population should say the following to the political class – “we will stop useing aircraft when you do – till then you can shove your tax up your arse”.

    By the way I am part time worker on minimum wage (and the park may decide not to carry on employing me after November 5th).

    Yet I have visited friends in Ulster twice (clue I did not go by ship) and I will be seeing relatives and friends in Israel in March.

    So Mr Paul Lockett is wrong.

  21. Paul Lockett says:

    Paul Marks: “So Mr Paul Lockett is wrong.”

    I’m afraid not. I am right.

  22. Paul Marks says:

    Paul Lockett.

    You claimed that the poor did not travel by air.

    I just proved (by personal example) that you were wrong.

    Instead of admitting your error you just claim to be right.

    Oh dear…………..

  23. [...] I have mentioned the iniquity of APD (air passenger duty) before… [...]

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