Surprise, surprise. Air travellers would like to pay less tax (wouldn’t we all?)

In a particularly silly story, as part of the Telegraph’s continuing campaign against Air Passenger Duty, they misrepresent a survey done by the Airport Operators Association. The AOA has done a survey of travellers, (but the survey is not made public, so the nature of the questions cannot be seen) and this comes out with the un-surprising result that (shock, horror) 80% of those questioned would like to pay less tax.  Nobody likes paying tax, and if any sample of payers of a particular tax were questioned about whether they would like to pay less, they would agree that they would. The Telegraph headling “Eight in ten Britons back air tax cut” is especially inaccurate, as in any one year, it is likely that only about 47% of Brits actually get on a plane (see below). So a survey of air passengers flying this year is only perhaps at best representative of half the UK population.  That 80% is more like 40% of the total.  And who is surprised if people want to get something for less, and pay less tax?


Surprise, surprise – people don’t like paying tax !

Telegraph says “Eight in ten Britons back air tax cut”

It says “More than eight in 10 Britons would support a reduction in aviation tax, new research has suggested”

22 Oct 2012 (Telegraph)

The study, commissioned by the Airport Operators Association (AOA), suggested that 82 per cent of people believe Air Passenger Duty (APD), paid by all passengers flying from airports in Britain, should be cut or frozen.  [The survey is not made public. A request to see the survey questions has been ignored by the AOA].

The AOA said the poll of 2,097 travellers “clearly shows the support that the vast majority of business leaders and the public have for airports and aviation in general to help boost jobs, exports and inward investment, and to ensure flying remains affordable.”

Following the most recent rise in APD, an eight per cent increase in April, a family of four travelling to Europe must pay £52 in tax, [ie. it is only £13 per person – so the figure has to be bumped up by multiplying it by 4, to make it look large enough to count] while those flying farther afield are hit even harder. A family of four flying to New York, for example, are liable for £260 in APD, one visiting the Caribbean must pay £324, while those heading to Australia are hit with a £368 tax bill. Further increases, which will come into effect next April, are likely to be confirmed by the Government in the Autumn Statement.

APD has been criticised for pricing ordinary British families out of flying, discouraging foreign holidaymakers (who pay the tax on their return) from visiting, and damaging the economies of countries – such as those in the Caribbean – that are heavily reliant on tourism.  [This article, as the Telegraph campaign as a whole, conveniently forget that APD is charged as aviation pays no fuel tax, and no VAT – so APD is seen by the Treasury as at attempt to partly compensate for this under-taxation. To fully compensate for the tax loss to the Treasury of not receiving VAT or fuel duty, APD would need to be almost quadrupled.  Much more detail on this at link . AirportWatch comment].

A campaign that allows voters to email their MP to express disapproval at the “unacceptable” level of tax paid by British fliers has also highlighted a growing level of opposition to APD. [The article also conveniently ignores the habit of airlines and travel companies of merrily adding on charges, or raising their prices by large amounts over half terms and holidays, when the average family of four want to go on their trip. These sums charged to travellers are often far higher than the sum of APD, which is only a relatively low tax, imposed because air travel is not taxed by the normal means. See link  and link. “Families forced to pay 269% more for holidays (by the travel companies) in popular weeks”. Perhaps the Telegraph should run a campaign about this aspect of over-charging air travellers?  AirportWatch comment ].

So far more than 250,000 Britons have contacted their MP since the website,, was established.

Meanwhile, an early day motion calling for a review into the impact of APD has received the backing of nearly 100 MPs, including former Liberal Democrat leaders Charles Kennedy and Sir Menzies Campbell, and the Conservative 1922 Committee Chairman Graham Brady.




What proportion of UK citizens fly in any one year?

Around 50% – or 47% in 2010

In 2008 the Department for Transport publication, “Public experiences and attitudes to air travel” said “The survey indicates that 51% of adults had not flown in the last 12 months. This corresponds with the results of the 2002 Omnibus Survey, where 51% of adults had not flown in 2001. However, as the report notes, although the proportion of the population who have flown in the past year is the same in both surveys, in the more recent survey a higher proportion of air travellers were making multiple trips. In 2006, 30% of air travellers said they had flown three or more times in the last year; in 2002 the figure was 23%.”  (page 55 of link)

Also,  the DfT survey ‘Public experiences of and attitudes towards air travel’. of July 2010      ( link ) showed that 47% of adults had flown in the previous 12 months (down on the 49% recorded in the 2001 survey).  It states (on page 2):  “Just under half (47%) of adults had flown at least once in the last 12 months; 37% had made at least one short-haul flight, 18% had made a long-haul flight and 8% had made a domestic flight within the UK. A fifth (20%) of adults had made just one flight, 11% two flights and 16% three or more flights. These proportions are similar to the 2006 and 2008 Omnibus surveys “