Airlines and holiday companies have launched a campaign to stop the Government introducing any further rises in airport departure tax.

The demonstrators, led by travel organisation Abta and backed by the likes of British Airways, have written to Chancellor George Osborne to make the plea before he reveals his Budget later this month.

Members of the public have been asked to back the campaign by joining its Facebook group.

Air passenger duty (APD) has risen 26-fold since 1994 and it was increased again last autumn. Passengers flying to the Caribbean faced particularly sharp increases.

In an Abta survey of 2,046 people, results showed that 63 per cent thought that APD levels were too high.

Protesters argue that UK air travellers pay the highest levels of flight tax in Europe.

A family of four flying from the UK to Florida pays £240 in APD, while an Irish family pay just £11 to the same destination and a French family pays £15.

Air passenger tax threatens holidays

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “When it comes to the future of tourism in the UK, the Government’s words and deeds simply do not match up.

“The Prime Minister has identified tourism as one of the top five industries to drive growth, yet aviation tax has become a punitive stealth tax. It is vital that the Government understands the impact it is having on the health of the tourism industry in the UK.”

British Airways chief executive Keith Williams said: “We recognise the exceptional difficulty of the country’s fiscal position and we are content to pay our fair share. But the UK airline industry is already the most heavily taxed in the world and any further tax burden will be

counterproductive to the country’s economic recovery.”