A number of the country’s leading airlines have come together to ask the government to scrap its plans to hike Air Passenger Duty in April as a way of preserving jobs and aiding economic recovery. The tax is due to go up by eight per cent at the beginning of next month.

The chief executives of International Airlines Group, which owns British Airways, Ryanair, easyJet and Virgin Atlantic have put together a statement in which they are jointly asking Chancellor George Osborne to rethink his plans in the next budget.

In the statement Willie Walsh, head of IAG, Carolyn McCall, CEO of easyJet, Steve Ridgway, head of Virgin Atlantic and Ryanair’s boss Michael O’Leary have asked the Treasury to conduct a study into how APD is affecting the economy as well as jobs.

The airlines believe that the study would reveal that any financial benefits which come from APD will be outweighed by the damage which it is doing to economic activity. The statement says that if the government wants to implement financial recovery then it should stop increasing APD.

A spokesman for the Treasury said that it had always been the government’s intention to push up the cost of APD in April following a decision to put a freeze on the cost last year. He defended the tax by pointing out that there is no VAT on domestic flights in the UK and that there is also no taxation of aviation fuel unlike in a number of countries across Europe.