Blaming falling passenger numbers on the punitive tax, BA chief executive, Keith Williams, confirmed the news when delivering the keynote speech to over 200 tourism directors, ministers and practitioners in St Martin at the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO)’s first ever dedicated conference to tackle the state of the travel and tourism industry.
For the summer 2012 timetable Williams explained that BA will be forced to reduce capacity to the Caribbean by approximately six percent in a bid to focus on the most profitable routes.
Attributing the reduction to lower-than-planned recovery of leisure travel demand, the BA chief linked the reduced demand to the UK government’s “destructive tax juggernaut” of Air Passenger Duty.
Williams said, “We continue to protest against the rises in APD and I hope the government’s recent consultation will lead to a more equitable banding system that does not penalise the Caribbean.”
Among the reductions in capacity to the Caribbean, British Airways is expected to cancel its two weekly flights from Gatwick to Montego Bay, Jamaica, next March.
Williams explained the tax increases the cost of a flight from London to the Caribbean for a family of four by $470. Consequently, fewer people are prepared to travel.
According to the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, arrivals from the UK to the Caribbean are already declining, while those from other source markets are increasing.
In November 2010, it was estimated that the average decline in UK arrivals to the Caribbean would be in the region of 15 percent, once the full impact of the latest rise in APD has taken effect.
During the first half of 2011, the impact was even greater at 20 percent on 2008 passenger levels.
The World Travel and Tourism Council has also recently called on the British government to recalibrate the tax.