Flight Centre says the hike in the UK's airport departure is likely to hurt British travellers more than Kiwis.
The British government yesterday lifted British air passenger duty charges which are automatically added to the price of a ticker when bookings are made.
Because it is levied on distance traveled, passengers traveling on flights between the UK and New Zealand are among the hardest hit, with increases of 55% or 170 pounds ($NZ356) per person.
Airlines have called the rises disgraceful, with Virgin Atlantic and British Airways saying it will mean overseas holidays are no longer affordable for many for many and could prompt people to travel to Europe and depart from there.
Flight Centre’s air contracting manager James Brooker said he thought the tax would be more noticeable for passengers travelling out of the UK, where airfares were considerably cheaper due to the greater volume and frequency of flights.
“When Kiwis look at going to the UK, they have an expectation that airfares are often well over $2000. The additional tax, whilst frustrating, won’t stop Kiwis continuing to travel.
“Airfares out of New Zealand to the UK are continuing to be competitive, meaning Kiwis can still get good value airfares to the UK, even with this new tax.”
Tourism New Zealand said the recession has already led to a drop in people traveling to New Zealand from Britain, and the latest increase could further stall a recovery.
Departure tax increases have been in the pipeline since when Gordon Brown was prime minister, and Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCall said the government here had been trying to influence a review of the charges expected to be undertaken the British government.
Mr McCall this week said he had had reassurances from his ministerial colleagues that they have been working to secure an understanding of New Zealand's position.
"They have made it very clear that they would be very happy to see changes made that are favourable from our perspective."
Mr McCall said it was becoming clear that the change was sparking a backlash in Britain, and media there were explaining to the public how the tax could be avoided, for example, by traveling by underground fast train to France and beginning long-haul journeys from there.
"I think they will find the impact of this is going to be pretty savage on some of the airports and the British airlines, and they will want to see it addressed fairly quickly."
He said there were strategies to get people to New Zealand for next year's Rugby World Cup "and it won't be particularly helpful to have new taxes cutting across that strategy."
Tue, 02 Nov 2010