Air Passenger Duty, introduced in 1994, is applied to almost every ticket for flights originating in the UK.

Now, easyJet, Ryanair, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways are calling for the government to get rid of the tax, which has risen sharply since its introduction 17 years ago.

In 1994 passengers paying APD paid no more than £40 per ticket. The tax is now somewhere between £24 and £170.

The four airlines in opposition say Air Passenger Duty penalises the British wishing to take a holiday and detracts from the appeal of a UK vacation destination.

APD is only applied on flights originating in the UK. The price of the tax per ticket depends on the duration of flight.

The airlines are calling for the government to scrap the tax, despite the government freezing APD this year.

Ryanair cheif Michael O’Leary told the BBC that airlines would not increase their profits by removing the APD.

“This has nothing to do with our profits. It is paid by families, paid by passengers going on holidays,” he said.

If it is scrapped, the money goes straight back into families’ pockets.”

O’Leary added that 30 million fewer overseas visitors came to the UK in the past five years as a result of the tax.

The owner of British Airways and chief executive of the International Airlines Group Willie Walsh agreed with Ryanair’s O’Leary.

“This tax is hugely damaging and must be scrapped,” he said.

“We challenge the chancellor to undertake an independent review which will show that the net effect of this tax is damaging.”

According to BBC transport correspondent Richard Lister, the APD is expected to rise 10 per cent next year.

British air travelers could face taxes up to 30 times higher than those paid by traveller counterparts in Europe.

The tax was first introduced to combat greenhouse gas emissions. The EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme to be introduced next year would make the tax redundant.

The government is looking to alter the tax in its upcoming budget.