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BA, EasyJet, Ryanair, Virgin Atlantic Demand U.K. Air-Tax Freeze

March 12 (Bloomberg) -- Ryanair Holdings Plc, EasyJet Plc, Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. and British Airways-owner IAG, are calling on the U.K. government to halt a planned increase in aviation tax and investigate its effect on economic growth.

Air Passenger Duty, which is levied per passenger, discourages visitors to the U.K. and so destroys jobs in tourism, hospitality and aviation, the carriers said in a joint statement today. An independent survey would show the damage done to the U.K. economy by the tax as lost jobs outweigh the benefits of the revenue generated, according to the statement.

“Aviation wants to, and should be, playing a leading role in economic recovery,” airline chief executive officers, including Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary and EasyJet’s Carolyn McCall, said in the statement. “But the U.K. imposes the highest aviation taxes in the world, and keeps on increasing them without any analysis whatever of their overall economic impact.”

Air Passenger Duty is set to rise by 8 percent from April 1, the airlines said. An economy passenger on a return journey within the U.K. will pay 26 pounds ($41) tax, and the charge would rise to 92 pounds for trips to Australia.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne will deliver his annual budget March 21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Steve Rothwell in London at srothwell@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net

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