Protesters descended on Heathrow and Leeds/Bradford Airports today in a coordinated attempt to highlight the fact that the aviation industry pays no VAT.
In a protest modelled on those recently seen at Oxford Street stores like Vodafone and Topshop by protest group UK Uncut, over 100 campaigners from TakeVAT and other direct action groups such as Plane Stupid ran around terminal 3 at Heathrow airport ‘confiscating items’.
The campaigners were symbolically ‘confiscating’ items such as luggage trolleys and toilet roll, to highlight the fact that there is no VAT on airline tickets, the purchase of planes or on spare parts for aircraft.
In January VAT rose to 20%. Hard working families across the country are being hit hardest by the rise whilst the aviation industry – which is mainly a habit of the rich, remains a special case and is completely exempt.
There were also protests in Leeds where around 20 protesters targeted Leeds/Bradford Airport. As soon as they arrived off the bus they were met by a handful of police and scuffles broke out as the protesters tried to reach the terminal building. In the end they managed to sit down together to make their point heard just outside the main terminal building.
Spokesperson for TakeVAT London said:
“It is simply unfair that aviation pays no VAT. Why should one of the dirtiest and noisiest industries in the world get away scot-free when ordinary people are charged VAT on basic necessities like toilet rolls?”
Spokesperson for TakeVAT Leeds, University of Leeds student Joseph Blake said:
“As the government imposes austerity measures on hard working families across the UK, the aviation industry gets away with £9 billion a year in VAT tax exemptions. We took action today in solidarity with the London protests and to demand the government put people first, and not climate criminals like the aviation industry”.