HUNDREDS of small independent tour operators will have welcomed this week's decision to defer by a month - until 1 November - the imposition of airport tax announced in the Budget. Operators, who had already produced brochures offering holidays with no-surcharge guarantees until the end of October, feared that absorption of this extra cost - pounds 5 for passengers within in the European Union and pounds 10 elsewhere - might force smaller firms into liquidation. The Government has yet to explain how it will collect the tax; one suggestion is by vending machines for departing passengers.