The All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation (APPG-GA) has claimed that the number of students in Britain learning to become airline pilots is far below potential – due to much higher training costs in this country compared to elsewhere in the world. Members of the APPG-GA have now met with a senior Government minister in a bid to reverse the trend.
After the meeting, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Robert Jenrick MP, said he would see what could be done to make training cheaper.
Campaigners want to see VAT and Excise Duty slashed or scrapped for students wanting to become pilots. They also pressed the minister to get the Government to take off the 20 per cent VAT on AVGAS, the fuel which is used in many training aircraft.
According to some estimates, if the effect of duty and VAT on AVGAS are taken together, the effective tax rate on AVGAS fuel is at least 60%. The UK also charges 20% VAT on flight training, whereas some other European states do not charge any VAT on flight training.
Parliamentary Chair of the APPG’s STEM Jobs and Skills Working Group, Dr Rupa Huq MP, said: “The Government must accept the cost of flight training is unacceptable for much of the population.
No other form of education or training has VAT added to it and it is deeply unfair that aviation is penalised in this way. A reduction at the very least is essential if we want to see a much-needed reversal in the decline in the number of people learning to become airline pilots in the UK.”
The APPG-GA estimate that it currently it costs students wanting to become a commercial pilot in the UK anything up to (or beyond) £120,000. But, only 12 per cent of students studying for a professional pilot licence in the UK currently receive any form of funding.
The APPG-GA say that Government itself recognises that the UK is unlikely to help meet the number of new pilots required (around 40,000 per year, according to various industry forecasts) because of the UK’s high training costs.
APPG Chair Grant Shapps MP said: “With 45 percent of future airline pilots having their education supported by their parents, it is essential the Government commits to a policy that allows for people from all backgrounds to afford flight training.”
He added: “By taking the relatively simple step of removing the VAT from AvGas the Government would show Britain can still lead the way in training the pilots in the future.”
The meeting follows the recent publication of the Department for Transport Green Paper ‘Aviation 2050’ which discusses the possibility of removing VAT from flight training.