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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 January 2007, 16:33 GMT
Ryanair boss attacks Brown on tax
Michael O'Leary
Michael O'Leary has continued his war of words with the government
Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has accused Chancellor Gordon Brown of "using the environment to steal more taxes from ordinary air passengers".

He said the decision to double the Air Passenger Duty airport departure tax was "regressive and ineffective".

The move - taking effect on 1 February - meant Ryanair passengers would be taxed at more than 35%, he added.

The Treasury said the changes would save about three quarters of a million tonnes of carbon every year by 2011.

The Air Passenger Duty (APD) is to increase from 5 to 10 for most short haul flights, but passengers on long haul journeys now face paying up to 80 in tax.

Mr O'Leary said the chancellor would not spent any of the extra revenue from the increased duty on the environment.

"He is just using the environment to steal more taxes from ordinary passengers," he said.

Gordon Brown won't spend any of this money on the environment
Michael O'Leary

But a Treasury spokesman said: "The government has said that Air Passenger Duty has "a role to play in tackling the climate change impact of aviation".

"The revenues raised from the increase will secure extra resources in the coming spending round for our priorities such as public transport and the environment."


Mr O'Leary's comments are the latest in a war of words with ministers over the environment.

Environment Minister Ian Pearson last week called Ryanair the "irresponsible face of capitalism".

Mr O'Leary hit back at Mr Pearson, calling him "foolish and ill- informed".

On Wednesday the budget airline boss, who said the APD changes would generate about 1bn, also defended his company's record.

He said Ryanair had halved its carbon dioxide emissions over the last five years, as well as achieving a 45% reduction in fuel burn and noise by investing over $10bn (5.2bn) in new aircraft.

He said he was writing to the chancellor asking him to withdraw the increase in APD.

And quoting last year's Stern Review, which suggested aviation accounted for about 1.6% of global greenhouse gas emissions, Mr O'Leary concluded that aviation "is neither the cause of nor the solution to global warming".

'High-altitude release'

But the Treasury said simply focussing on carbon dioxide emissions did not give the "whole picture of environmental damage caused by aviation".

It said air travel was also responsible for "high-altitude release of other harmful emissions", adding that the total climate change impact of aviation could be two to four times the CO2 impact.

Meanwhile, Friends of the Earth said "the government must do more to cut emissions from every sector".

"Carbon dioxide emissions have risen under Labour," said the group's aviation campaigner, Richard Dyer.

"Air travel is the fastest growing source of carbon dioxide in the UK.

"Unless urgent action is taken to curb this growth it is unlikely that we will be able to tackle climate change."

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