News about Air Passenger Duty

Below are some of the many stories relating to APD over the past couple of years.

Sunak halves domestic APD and introduces a band of over 5,500 miles (costing just £5 more)

Air Passenger Duty is the only tax paid on air travel, as it pays neither fuel tax nor VAT. The rate has been £13 for a return economy flight to anywhere in Europe, since April 2012. The price is £82 for trips of over 2,000 miles. Until April 2015 there were four distance bands for APD.  Adults on domestic flights paid £13 for each part of the return trip, ie. £26 return.  Now the Chancellor has halved the rate of domestic APD, from April 2023, so it would just be £13 for a return trip. The claim is that this helps connectivity within the UK, being useful for those in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Flights within the UK are usually cheaper than rail tickets, and cutting APD sends completely the wrong signal, in making flights even cheaper – when what would help cut CO2 would be to reduce the cost of rail travel.  Riski Sunak has introduced a new distance band for APD, so instead of just the two bands – of under, or over, 2,000 miles – a new band is added – of over 5.500 miles. This is from April 2023. But the increased APD level will just be £91. The rate for trips of over 2,000 miles will be £84 from April 2022, and if it rises by £2 per year, which is usually does, would be £86 by April 2023. So the higher rate will be just £5 more. Not much of a disincentive, or help to reduce CO2.  Treasury expects £35 million less per year from APD after 2023.

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Rishi Sunak might bring back 3 or 4 band APD, with a higher long-haul rate, but lower domestic rate

Air Passenger Duty (APD) is currently charged in two bands, to destinations under 2,000 miles (£13 for passengers aged over 16) and above 2,000 miles (£82), with business class passengers paying more, and more for private jets. There was a consultation about rates of APD and the distance bands earlier in the year. It is thought that the Chancellor will announce, in his autumn budget, that APD will be reduce for domestic flights (passengers pay £26 for a return domestic flight, but only £13 for a return European flight).  Until 2015 there were four bands for APD, with under 2,000 miles, 2,000 to 4,000, 4,000 to 6,000 and over 6,000 miles. It is thought likely that Rishi Sunak will bring back the higher distance band, for higher APD for flights of over 6,000 miles.  It currently makes no sense, in terms of carbon emissions, that the APD on a flight to Cairo or Dubai is the same as one to Thailand or Australia. Scrapping the APD on domestic flights does not help encourage people to take the train, when often the journey by train is quite easy – but far more expensive. A recent trial by campaigners compared the train and plane between central London and central Edinburgh. The plane was two minutes faster.  UK aviation is seriously under-taxed, paying no VAT and no fuel duty.

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Treasury consulting on APD distance bands change; perhaps to 3 or 4 (just 2 now)

The Treasury has a current consultation on “Aviation Tax Reform.”  Part of it is whether the level of Air Passenger Duty (APD) on domestic flights should be changed. Currently a passenger on a return domestic flight pays £13 x2 = £26, as they leave a UK airport twice. The cost is only £13 for a return flight to a European (under 2,000 miles) destination. They are also consulting about whether there should be more bands for APD for longer journeys. The government is aware that air travellers should pay more, if they fly further and thus cause the emission of more carbon.  In 2008 it was decided there would be 4 distance bands with increasing APD costs; under 2,000 miles; 2,000 – 4,000; 4,000 to 6,000; and over 6,000. But in 2014 this was changed to just two bands, under and over 2,000 miles. The consultation asks if the bands should be changed; if they should revert to the 4 levels there were between 2008 and 2014; or if there should be a new system, with three bands. These would be under 2,000 miles; between 2,000 and 5,500 miles; and over 5,500 miles. There were some potential technical difficulties with very large countries – eg. the US or Russia – so only considering the capital city, to categorise the country, can be unfair. Consultation closes 15th June 2021.

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Government advised to halve domestic APD and review distance bands for the tax

Boris Johnson is set to authorise a 50% cut in APD for domestic flights. Senior Whitehall sources say he will announce a review of the tax, which is the only tax on air tickets (on which no tax or VAT is paid). Currently APD is charged at £13 for any adult leaving a UK airport, so that is the cost for any return flight to anywhere in Europe.  For domestic flights (for which there is usually a rail alternative) the tax is £26, so it is charged on leaving both airports. The review will also look at the case for increasing the number of international distance bands. Since 2015, there have only been two bands, one covering flights of up to 2,000 miles and the other those in excess of that. The plans to change APD will be put to a consultation, so it is unlikely to be introduced until 2022. The recommendations are part of a wider Union Connectivity Review by Sir Peter Hendy, the chairman of Network Rail, to be published on 10th March, proposing a new “UK Strategic Transport Network” to oversee British transport priorities. Critics say the 50% domestic APD cut — coming just days after fuel duty was frozen for the 10th consecutive year —  and rail fare rises, further undermine ministers’ commitment to cutting carbon a target of net-zero carbon by 2050. Doug Parr, chief scientist for Greenpeace UK, said this would “continue our nonsensical trend of the higher the carbon, the lower the tax.”

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APD to rise on long-haul only (>2,000 miles) from £80 to £82 from April 2021 – no change in short haul £13 APD

Air Passenger Duty (APD) –  the UK duty on flights – is set to increase for flights of over 2,000 miles, in April 2021.  The APD will rise from £80 now to £82, for a return flight – APD is only charged on departures.  For premium class air tickets of over 2,000 miles, the APD will rise by £4 from £176 to £180.  There will be no increase in APD for flights under 2,000 miles, which means any flight in Europe, which will continue to pay just £13 for a return trip (£26 premium class).  The rate for long-haul private jet etc rises from £528 to £541. (The distance is measured from London to the capital city of the destination country.)  This tiny APD rise is not doing to deter anyone flying.  The increase come  despite calls from the aviation industry to freeze or even scrap APD due to the problems the sector has because of the Covid pandemic.  There have been many calls for APD on domestic return flights to be scrapped, (as the APD is £26, not the £13 for a European flight) but there is no mention of those in the government announcement.  Perhaps the government appreciates that airlines take money out of the UK, and passengers to foreign leisure trips, o a far greater extent than they bring money in.

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Chancellor’s statement “A plan for jobs” – in response to the Covid pandemic. Aviation not mentioned. (NO APD cut)

8th July 2020

Though airlines had again pleaded for the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to cut Air Passenger Duty, to help the sector get passengers flying again, there was no mention whatsoever of air travel in the Treasury’s statement.

There are strong arguments why cutting APD would be a very bad idea at present, set out in this briefing, sent to the Treasury on 7th July 2020, by the Aviation Environment Federation.

Budget 11th March 2020. No change in short haul APD quite yet … slight increase on long-haul … but … consultation some time soon on aviation tax ?

2.221 Air Passenger Duty (APD) rates – APD rates will increase in line with RPI for 2021-22, meaning that short haul rates remain frozen at £13, benefitting 80% of passengers.23
The rate for long haul economy will increase by £2, and the rates for those travelling in premium economy, business and first class will increase by £4. Those travelling long-haul by private jets will see the rate increase by £13.
1.158 A cornerstone of the government’s levelling up agenda is its commitment to regional connectivity. The aviation industry has an important role to play in connecting the nations and regions of the UK.  Following the review of Air Passenger Duty (APD) that has been undertaken by HM Treasury, the government will consider the case for changing the APD treatment of domestic flights, such as reintroducing a return leg exemption, and for increasing the number of international distance bands.
These considerations will form part of a consultation on aviation tax reform that will be published in spring 2020.

Flybe saved after ministers agree a government loan + deferral of APD, and review of APD on domestic flights

The immediate future of Flybe was secured on 14th January evening, after ministers agreed a rescue deal with shareholders to keep the loss making regional airline flying.  The package of measures includes a potential loan in the region of £100m and/or a possible short-term deferral of a £106m air passenger duty (APD) bill to the Treasury, to help it sort out its debts. Also a pledge to review APD on domestic flights before the March budget. Flybe’s owners Connect Airways – a consortium led by Virgin Atlantic – were persuaded to commit millions more to cover ongoing losses. The government is still in negotiations to finalise any loan to Flybe.  The deal was condemned by IAG as “a blatant misuse of public funds” and Virgin “wanting the taxpayer to pick up the tab for their mismanagement of the airline”. Moves to cut APD on domestic flights are totally at odds with any serious attempt to cut CO2 emissions from aviation, as most UK domestic trips can be made on (lower CO2) rail routes. Air travel is already subsidised, by paying no VAT or fuel duty. Some routes deemed socially necessary could be subsidised under EU rules – Flybe’s Newquay to London route is already funded from taxpayers.

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Any plans by UK government to remove APD on domestic flights would be unhelpful on CO2 emissions

Responding to the news that Boris Johnson’s Tory government is considering dropping all APD on domestic flights (just cutting it for Flybe would not be legal, for competition reasons) groups that understand about the need for cuts in carbon emissions reacted with dismay (to put it politely). Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace, commented: “This is a poorly thought out policy that should be immediately grounded.  The Government cannot claim to be a global leader on tackling the climate emergency one day, then making the most carbon-intensive kind of travel – flying – cheaper the next. Cutting the cost of domestic flights while allowing train fares to rise is the exact opposite of what we need if we’re to cut climate-wrecking emissions from transport. The aviation sector has got away for years with increasing its carbon footprint. The last thing we need is another incentive for them to pollute more.”  Caroline Lucas commented on Twitter: “Addressing #Flybe problems by reducing #APD on all domestic flights is utterly inconsistent with any serious commitment to tackle #ClimateCrisis. Aviation already subsidised – no tax on fuel. Domestic flights need to be reduced, not made cheaper.”  Jenny Bates at Friends of the Earth said on Twitter: “APD cut on domestic flights would be “unacceptable & reckless” ⁦we at  @friends_earth ⁩ say-we must cut aviation emissions not encourage them.”

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Government considering UK APD cut to save loss-making airline Flybe

Flybe is one of the main airlines that fly domestic routes in the UK – 38% of them. Currently air passengers pay £26 APD on a return domestic flight (and £13 on a return flight to a European airport). Flybe has been struggling for years, as many of its routes are not profitable. It said in October that it recognised, with growing awareness of the higher CO2 emissions from a flight that using the train or coach, (and “flight shame”) that some of the domestic routes should be scrapped. Now Flybe cannot pay its APD bill to the government – about £100 million over three years. So the government, which talked up the importance of regional connectivity before the election, is considering removing APD from all domestic flights. That would be entirely the opposite of what is needed, to tackle UK carbon emissions, and those from UK aviation in particular. Aviation is already subsidised by not paying VAT. The loss to the Treasury from cutting domestic APD would have to be made up by  taxation from other sources. It is not as if all domestic flights are vital to the economy. Most are leisure passengers, making trips to visit places or people, friends or family.

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Netherlands planning to start taxing air travel by around €7 per passenger, from 2021

The Netherlands plans to impose a €7 tax per passenger in 2021 if the EU fails to come up with an aviation fuel tax.  Momentum is building for a crack-down on aviation’s environmental impact. The Netherlands’ finance state secretary said its draft flight tax bill could yield €200 million and “help close the price gap between plane tickets and, for example, train tickets”. The proposals – still a draft, to be debated by politicians – are that any air passenger departing from a Dutch airport will be charged a maximum of €7.50. Cargo planes will also be charged, at a rate of €1.92 for less noisy planes and €3.85 for more noisy aircraft. At present, unlike travel by car, bus or train, international flights from the Netherlands are not in any way taxed by the Dutch government. There has also been a proposal that the Netherlands and Belgium made earlier this year on imposing aviation taxes via bilateral deals – and the Netherlands may look at implementing others.  If there is EU agreement on another aviation tax, before 2021, then the current Dutch tax proposal will be dropped. On 13th May a report emerged that showed taxing jet fuel would cut EU CO2 emissions and have a limited impact on employment.

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European elections: Top candidates for EU President demand tax on (aviation) kerosene, to help deal with CO2 emissions

Both the conservative Manfred Weber [German politician] and the social democrat Frans Timmermans [Dutch politician and diplomat] want to tax aircraft fuel. They are the main candidates to be the next EU Commission President, after Jean-Claude Junker steps down later in May.  But they are divided on the CO2 tax. Both want to abolish the tax benefits for aviation fuel. Airlines currently do not pay fuel tax on their fuel, due to historic international agreements. The injustice leads to lying being significantly cheaper than other means of transport. “The preference of the airline business must be ended.” Then the train would also have better chances in the competition.  Frans Timmermans wants to tax kerosene “unconditionally and quickly”… “If it fails at the international level, we have to introduce the tax EU-wide.” They disagree on whether carbon should be taxed, due to difficulties in protecting the poor.  The German Union parties have so far no uniform position on the CO2 tax. But Timmermans wants a European tax on CO2, and said the next President must make climate protection a top priority and push the transformation of the economy in the next 5 years.

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Scottish government has decided not to remove APD – tax-free flying is inconsistent with policies to cut CO2 emissions

The Scottish Government has decided to scrap plans to cut Air Passenger Duty (APD). The tax (just £13 for a return flight to anywhere in Europe) is paid by any passenger leaving from a UK airport.  Aviation pays no VAT on tickets and there is no duty of jet fuel. The Scottish government had wanted to reduce the tax by 50% initially, before eventually abolishing it. This has been threatened since 2016. Cutting APD would have the effect of making air tickets a little cheaper, so increasing the number of flights taken – and therefore the CO2 emissions from Scottish airports. Edinburgh airport said the number of extra passengers at Scottish airports could be one million. Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said reducing air departure tax was “no longer compatible” with Scotland’s climate targets, and all sectors have a contribution to make to meeting the challenge of climate change. Cutting the tax would possibly slightly increase the number of visitors flying to Scotland, but the increase in the number of Scottish people flying abroad would be higher. Nicola Sturgeon declared a “climate emergency” in her speech to the SNP conference last month. Cutting the tax would have been entirely inconsistent with that.

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T&E: EU-wide taxes on jet fuel + VAT on plane tickets could help plug EU budget gap & address aviation CO2 impact

Subjecting domestic, intra and extra-EU aviation tickets to even a low rate of VAT would generate huge revenues for governments. Bill Hemmings, from European transport NGO T&E, estimates that taxing aviation fuel for domestic and intra-EU flights at the EU minimum rate of 33 cents/litre set by the Energy Tax Directive could generate about €9.5 billion in additional revenues each year. Abolishing the exemptions and applying a 15% VAT to all passenger transport could generate a further €17 billion. Even the European Commission calls these exemptions subsidies. A common ticket tax on EU departures could generate around €11 billion – or more. The Commission has now proposed reforms to VAT rates across Europe which, if agreed, will become the basis for the long-awaited definitive VAT regime in 2022. But instead of abolishing VAT breaks for airline tickets, the EU plan will treat even frivolous trips like a flight for a weekend break the same, in terms of VAT, as “necessities” such as foodstuffs, or pharmaceutical products. Transport is Europe’s biggest CO2 emitter and journeys by plane form a significant part.  One reason in the past why there was no VAT on international air trips was the difficulty in collecting it. However, it is now clear VAT could be charged at the rate of the country the plane departed from, for the whole cost of the ticket.

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German air passenger tax (now €7 – 40) under threat as negotiations continue to form new German government

Negotiators for a new grand coalition between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and Social Democrats may drop a proposal to progressively abolish Germany’s air transport tax (the Luftverkehrssteuer.  The tax is levied on air ticket prices and costs between €7 and 40 euros depending on the distance flown, and generates about €1 billion per year. The airlines, of course, want the tax abolished, and claim it harms “competitiveness.” Aviation in Germany already pays no VAT (except on domestic flights) and no fuel duty.  The CDU (Merkel) and SPD negotiating teams were discussing abolishing the ticket tax, but so far the tax seems to have survived the talks. It would be crazy to allow aviation to pay even tax than it does now, bearing in mind its massive CO2 emissions. Aviation is on its way to eating up all of what remains of our chances to limit global warming to below 2°C as agreed in Paris. Aviation emissions are growing fast (up 8% in the EU in 2016), billions of people are waiting to catch their first flight (just 3% of India’s population have ever boarded a plane). Efficiency improvements in the sector are slow and shrinking. What’s more, by ignoring non-CO2 effects we’re underestimating aviation’s contribution to global warming by a factor of at least two.

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Scottish plans to cut APD and introduce Air Departure Tax hit snag with EU state aid rules

Plans to replace Scottish air passenger duty with a discounted alternative have been disrupted by legal issues. The Scottish government wants to replace APD with a new devolved Air Departure Tax (ADT) in Scotland from April next year. MSPs voted for the new tax by 108 votes to 11 in June.  However plans to continue exempting journeys from airports in the Highlands and Islands required EU approval under state aid rules. It is understood that getting this approval could take longer than Brexit. It could cost the Scottish government £320m to maintain the exemption of these flights in the meantime. The Scottish government wants to cut the new tax by 50%, before eventually scrapping it completely. It argues the move will boost the economy by increasing the number of flights to and from the country. To introduce the new tax, it has to be approved by the European Commission, and tough EU rules which ban state aid make it potentially problematic for flights to and from the Highlands and Islands being exempted. Transport & Environment says the state aid issue may never be resolved. If the UK wants to remain in the European Common Aviation Area, it will have to abide by EU rules including those on state aid. ECJ is the final arbitrator in that agreement. And the UK will have no vote in shaping future EU state aid rules.

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MSPs back new Scottish air departure tax (not APD)… but Greens warn SNP not to cut charges

Scottish Ministers will set out the rates and bands for a new tax to replace Air Passenger Duty (APD) in Scotland.  It paves the way for the Scottish Government to fulfil their commitment to halve the tax on departing air passengers, by the end of this Parliament. The Bill to create air departure tax was approved by 108 votes to 11, and it will come into force from April 2018.  Ministers will set out the rates and bands for the new charge in the autumn. These will also have to be approved by MSPs. Though Scottish Labour backed the law, they don’t want the tax to be cut. The Greens and Lib Dems voted against any cut and against the change from APD.  The Scottish Greens said they may snub budget talks with SNP ministers next year unless the SNP rethinks their plan to cut the air tax. The minority SNP administration relied on Green votes to pass this year’s budget.  The Scottish economy cannot afford to lose the income from an air departure tax – public services are already short of funds. It makes even less sense, when the main beneficiaries of cutting the air tax are those rich enough to fly a lot.  Not the poor.  Edinburgh airport claimed it had a record year in 2016 – demonstrating that not deterring passengers. Cutting the tax would mean more incentive to fly, which would cause higher carbon emissions – at a time when we should be cutting them.

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DUP want Air Passenger Duty scrapped as part of deal with Tories

21.6.2017 (BBC)

… (part of longer article …)

The Democratic Unionist Party has asked for significant investment in health and infrastructure in NI as part of a parliamentary deal with the Tory Party.   Negotiations began after the Tories failed to win an outright majority in the general election and needed DUP support for a minority government.    On Tuesday, the DUP expressed concern that it was being “taken for granted” in the discussions.    Sources told the BBC on Wednesday the party wants to see £1bn investment in the health service in Northern Ireland and a similar figure for infrastructure projects.
The DUP has also focussed on key economic measures including a reduction of corporation tax and the scrapping of air passenger duty (APD).   BBC News NI political correspondent Stephen Walker said: “Sources close to the talks process say the plans to scrap APD have “stirred much resistance within the Treasury.”

New report shows Scot Gov plan to cut aviation tax will damage Scotland and mainly benefit frequent fliers

A new report published by Scottish Green MSPs shows that the Scottish Government’s plan to cut aviation tax will cost the Scottish public purse hundreds of millions of pounds and put £47.3million into the pockets of businesses.  It also shows wealthy frequent fliers stand to gain hugely more from the tax cut than regular travellers.  This week the Scottish Greens will make a final attempt to amend the Air Departure Tax Bill at Holyrood so that instead of rewarding wealthy households and corporations and a highly-polluting industry, any new tax regime encourages a reduction in aviation and a shift towards cleaner forms of transport. The report finds that much of the benefit of the planned cut will accrue to those living in Scotland’s central belt; only 6% of all international flights by UK residents are taken by children, so the SNP’s claim that this policy will help “families” is highly misleading; such a generous tax subsidy for business flights within the UK will harm rail travel by incentivising a shift towards air travel; and reducing the cost of air travel will lower the cost of taking holidays outside of Scotland relative to holidays within Scotland, “cannibalising” holidaymakers from Scotland’s domestic tourism industry and worsening the deficit between what we spend abroad and what visitors spend here.

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Campaigners point out that cutting Scottish air tax benefits rich households and corporations the most

Plans by the Scottish Government to reduce and then abolish Air Passenger Duty (APD) in Scotland are “predominantly a tax giveaway for Scotland’s wealthiest households and corporations”, according to a new report. The study by the Fellow Travellers campaign group against high carbon emitting air travel found 70% of Scotland’s richest households stand to benefit from the proposed cut, compared to 30% of the poorest.  A Scottish air departure tax is set to come into force from April 2018 if passed by parliament, replacing APD. The SNP wants the tax cut by half by the end of this parliamentary term, with the charge to be scrapped when resources allow, claiming it will improve connectivity and create economic benefits. However, the Fellow Travellers report found that, based on official figures, halving the tax would lead to £189 million in lost revenue for Scotland by 2021/22.  It says:  “The SNP’s commitment has fired the starting gun for a race to the bottom on air passenger taxes in Great Britain. Any competitive advantage conferred on Scotland’s airports from a reduction in these taxes will be short-lived.” …. “This is predominantly a tax giveaway for Scotland’s wealthiest households and corporations.”  APD currently brings in about £300 million per year. That could pay to employ 11,500 nurses. Or fund a year of childcare for 54,000 children. Or convert every bus in Edinburgh to being fully electric.

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Indian air travel pays 25% tax on jet fuel, but Delhi now cut tax for domestic flights only to 1%

Unlike the UK, India puts VAT on the price of jet fuel. Sales Tax (levied by the State Governments) averages across India at 25%. But now domestic air travel from Delhi is likely to get cheaper with the Delhi government deciding to cut value added tax on aircraft turbine fuel (ATF) to 1% from the existing rate of 25%. As part of the central government’s connectivity scheme, the Delhi government reduced VAT on ATF by 24% to boost links with smaller airports in its budget for the year 2017-18. Delhi will have cheaper air links especially to the smaller airports to the north west. India is the world’s fastest-growing aviation market but most of the air travel is between big cities. Under the regional connectivity scheme, the government will subsidise part of the cost for airlines to operate flights to smaller towns. Jet fuel is one of the biggest costs for airlines, especially for low-cost carriers such as IndiGo Airlines, owned by InterGlobe Aviation, SpiceJet and GoAir. Airline shares rose on the news.

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Irish Finance Minister raises prospect of reintroducing air travel tax, as industry is under-taxed

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said the air travel industry may be considered to be under-taxed and the ability to apply the tax should remain in order to raise revenue. He has said the some form of air travel tax should be reintroduced, as air travel pays no VAT and no fuel duty. There is currently in Ireland a report by the National Civil Aviation Development Forum, that is recommending that Air Passenger Duty (APD) is formally abolished. APD was reduced in Ireland from €3 per passenger to zero in 2014. It had been €2 for short haul trips and €10 for long haul trips until 2010, and then a flat rate €3 for all trips from 2010 to 2014. Mr Noonan strongly rejected the proposal to remove APD, insisting the levy – at just €3 has no impact on the aviation industry, or passenger demand. He said the tax was a “useful tool for raising revenue and paying for externalities associated with air tax such as emissions, noise pollution, etc”. APD was only cut due to very heavy lobbying by the aviation industry. There is now aviation development forum in Ireland, set up since the Brexit vote. It comprises senior representatives in Irish aviation, is chaired by the Department of Transport, and aims to help the aviation industry to grow.

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Scottish draft budget confirms intention to cut APD by 50% by the end of the Parliament

In the Draft Scottish Budget announced by Derek Mackay, he confirmed that the Scottish government now has the power to legislate for a tax which will replace Air Passenger Duty (APD) in Scotland. ” …we will introduce a Bill in the first year of the current Parliament to establish the tax which will replace APD in Scotland from 1 April 2018. We remain committed to delivering a 50% reduction in the overall tax burden of APD by the end of this Parliament.” He hopes this will “deliver sustainable growth for the Scottish economy by helping to generate new direct air routes, sustain existing routes and increase inbound tourism.” There is, naturally, no mention of the money lost to Scotland by more outbound tourism. The Scottish Government expects APD will raise £326 million in 2018-19 for them, and £342 million in 2019-20. Edinburgh Airport Watch commented that Mr Mackay did not mention how he will plug the resulting £150 million hole in Scotland’s public finances, or the generous tax incentives already enjoyed by aviation – no duty or VAT payable on aviation fuel, no VAT on purchases of aircraft, or on servicing of aircraft. Airports enjoy a huge tax break in the form of Duty Free Shopping – an enormous cash earner for Airport owners. APD is a fair and progressive tax on an exceptionally lightly taxed industry.

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No change to APD in the Autumn Statement – it remains at £13 for European short-haul return trips

Despite the endless calls, as usual, for cuts in Air Passenger Duty that happen before any budget statement, there is no change in the Autumn Statement to levels of APD – other than a slow annual rise in line with inflation, as has already been happening. The level for standard rate return fares anywhere in Europe is £13 now, and will be £13 next year. The level for longer flights (anything of over 2,000 miles) will be £75 from 1st April 2017, while it is £73 now. There is no APD for children aged under 16. The amount the Treasury expects to get in from APD is around £3.3 billion each year 2017/ 2018 (but that ignores the estimate of somewhere around £10 billion per year that is not paid in, as aviation pays no VAT or fuel duty). In addition the government is to pay £20 million “for the development of alternative aviation and heavy goods vehicle fuels” by 2020/21. Philip Hammond also said that “The Chief Secretary to the Treasury [The Rt Hon David Gauke MP] will chair a new ministerial group that will oversee the delivery of priority infrastructure projects.” This may be because infrastructure is cross departmental, and Ministers from individual departments will have to agree to commit funds (a Minister has responsibility to Parliament for their departmental budget approved by Treasury).

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Autumn financial statement coming soon – so it is time for the regular industry lobby against APD ….

Airlines are, yet again, trying to put pressure on the Chancellor to cut rates of Air Passenger Duty, so flights are cheaper, more people fly (and the airlines make more money). They do this every time there is a budget or financial statement, with monotonous regularity. The airlines hope to persuade the government that aviation should be virtually untaxed, and always conveniently ignore the reason for APD – that air travel pays no VAT and no fuel duty. The Treasury has reiterated many times that this is the reason APD is charged. More flights are taken by British people spending leisure time abroad, taking cheap flights, than overseas residents flying to the UK. The net effect of further reducing APD would not only be a cut in government revenue, but an even larger UK annual tourism deficit (at £16.9 billion in 2015). APD for the longest flights was reduced in 2015, so any flight of more than 2,000 miles only pays £146. Before that, in 2014, flights over 6,000 miles paid £194. Children also now pay no APD, making holiday flights cheaper for families. Now some 53 MPs have written to Hammond, again calling for a cut in APD – playing the “need to connect Britain to the world” after Brexit card. It is estimated, and not challenged by the government, that the absence of VAT or fuel duty effectively gives the aviation industry an annual subsidy of around £10 billion (compared to the cost of paying VAT and fuel duty).

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Australian Passenger Movement Charge to rise from $55 to $60 for any flight from Australia

In Australia the Passenger Movement Charge (PMC) was established in 1995, replacing Departure Tax (which began in 1978). It has been at he level of $55 (Australian dollars) for anyone aged over 12 travelling outside Australia (unless they are in transit through Australia). The relevant Senate committee has been investigating the proposal to raise it $5 to $60, and will produce its report shortly. $60 per person (about £36.50) is the cost for any length of trip, economy or premium class, for air travel or sea travel. It is administered by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. The Australian PMC is considered to be the highest departure tax in the world, after the UK. The airlines, and IATA, naturally do not like the tax – let alone the tiny increase, and have complained how it cuts travel and could allegedly – they claim – damage the economy. As the charge is a flat rate, it is a higher proportion of short haul flights to Tasmania, than on long haul. IATA says the tiny rise might cut the number of international return flights to Australia by some 30,000 per year. “It will act as a brake on the Australian aviation sector,” IATA said, and they give estimates of up to $375 million for the national economy, and 3,800 more jobs if there was no PMC. IATA told the Senate committee that the PMC was “tax on tourism.”

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Airlines etc lobbying again – ahead of Chancellor Philip Hammond’s autumn statement on 23rd November.

Briefing from AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) on why  APD needs to be kept, and the rationale for it.

Budget 16th March 2016

No mentions of APD, just a continuation of how it was during 2015 – with rises at the rate of inflation in April 2016 and April 2017:

“Air Passenger Duty (APD) rates – As announced at Budget 2015, all APD rates will increase by RPI from 1 April 2016. All APD rates will increase by RPI from 1 April 2017. (Finance Bill 2016 and Finance Bill 2017) “


Assessment of proposal to cut APD by 50% in Scotland shows likely overall fall in revenue

An assessment of the Scottish Government’s plans to cut the rate of Air Passenger Duty (APD) shows that the aviation industry’s analysis has not accounted for the impact of a fall in domestic tourism. The 50% cut in APD proposed would have the effect of damaging the Scottish economy and reducing funding for public services. The report “APD Cut: A Flighty Economic Case” challenges claims that reducing APD by 50% will lead to sufficient economic growth to cover the short-fall in revenue from the tax cut. In reality, cheaper tickets will encourage more Scots to take cheap foreign trips. The amount of money they take out of Scotland on these extra trips is likely to be larger than the amount brought in. The inbound tourists with greater spending power than typical domestic tourists are the least likely to be sensitive to airline ticket prices. In a buoyant economy, the increase in outbound trips is likely to exceed the increase in inbound trips. The case for business growth due to an APD cut appears particularly weak as business flights are driven by need and time pressures rather than price. They are know to be price insensitive. There could also be a reduction in domestic tourism by Scottish people, who instead take cheap foreign breaks, so reducing employment in Scottish tourism.

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Scottish Green Party calls for Sturgeon to abandon plans to halve APD

The Scottish Green party say that Nicola Sturgeon should abandon her plans to slash air passenger duty (APD). Patrick Harvie, co-convener of the Scottish Green Party, said it was clear that there is no longer a majority at Holyrood in favour of halving APD, which would add to pollution and do nothing to tackle social inequality. The SNP manifesto said it would reduce air passenger duty by 50% over the next parliament (to 2020 or 2021). However, no other party in Scotland supported the move, with even the Scottish Conservatives, traditionally in favour of tax cuts, saying it could not be justified “at a time of constrained fiscal conditions.” The Scottish Green party have suggested models of taxing aviation, such as the Frequent Flyer Levy, which would ensure the cost is shifted onto the minority of mostly wealthy individuals who fly most often. Cutting the rate of APD would have the effect of increasing CO2 emissions from Scottish aviation, by encouraging more flights. A better way to tax air travel (which pays no VAT, and on which there is no fuel duty) would be to recognise the environmental costs of flying. Communities that are badly affected by the noise from flight paths at Edinburgh and Glasgow airports would suffer more noise. The additional noise – especially at night – is known to have adverse health impacts, which have a cost to society.

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Budget shows forecast Treasury receipts from APD in 2016-17 are £500 million lower than forecast in autumn 2013

There was no mention in the March Budget by George Osborne of any changes to Air Passenger Duty, though those seeking reductions in the tax had obtained column inches in the media in recent weeks pressing for cuts. The devolution of APD to Scotland and the likely 50% cut in its rate, by the SNP, over the next few years has caused concern at northern airports about unfair competition. All the 2016 Budget statement said on APD was: “As announced at Budget 2015, all APD rates will increase by RPI from 1 April 2016. All APD rates will increase by RPI from 1 April 2017. (Finance Bill 2016 and Finance Bill 2017)”. The 2016 Budget documents do show how much lower the tax receipts are from APD this year, and how much lower forecasts are for the next few years, than they were in the 2013 forecasts, and in the 2011 forecasts. The APD receipts for 2016-17 were expected – in 2013 – to be £3.7 billion. The figure in the 2016 Budget for 2016-17 is £3.2 billion. That is £500 million less than anticipated just two and a half years earlier. The tax receipts from APD in 2018-19 were forecast in 2013 to be £4.3 billion. The figure in the 2016 Budget is for 2018-19 is just £3.5 billion. That is £800 million less than anticipated just two and a half years earlier. If it costs £40,000 to employ a nurse in the NHS for a year, £800 million would pay for 20,000 nurses

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SNP to launch consultation on plan to cut Scottish air passenger duty by 50%, starting April 2018

The Scottish National Party (SNP) say they will cut Air Passenger Duty (APD) by 50% between April 2018 and 2021, if they win the Holyrood election on 5th May 2016. There is now a public consultation on this proposal. Control of APD is due to be devolved to Holyrood when the Scotland Bill becomes law, so it is no longer administered by the UK government. The Scottish Labour party has said a reduction would most benefit wealthier people, and should not go ahead. The majority of flights are taken by more affluent people, who can afford multiple short breaks as well as long haul holidays. Details of the APD consultation are due to be announced by Finance Secretary John Swinney during a visit to Edinburgh Airport. The 50% cut in APD would start in April 2018, and be done in stages till 2021. The industry would like cutting APD to increase the amount of profitable high spending tourists to Scotland. They hope this would boost jobs and bring economic benefits.The amount of Scottish money taken out of the country on even cheaper flights is not counted, nor the jobs lost as Scots spend their holiday money abroad. Climate campaigners fear the net effect will be higher carbon emissions from Scottish aviation, if the ticket price is cu

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Airports and MPs put pressure on George Osborne ahead of budget, on APD after its devolution

Air Passenger Duty (APD) will be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, and the ruling Scottish National Party are saying they would cut the tax by 50%. This has raised fears among airports in the north of England, such as Newcastle, that they could lose passengers to Scottish airports. Chancellor George Osborne is expected to announce the devolution of APD to the Welsh Assembly during his budget on 16th March. The Airport Operators Association (AOA) has had a survey done – but do not publish any details of it, so nothing can be verified. They claim that 60% of the MPs they questioned (no indication of which ones, what questions etc) thought APD should be charged at the same rates across the UK, regardless of devolution. The AOA has also written to Osborne asking him to use the budget to respond to last year’s discussion paper issued by the Treasury focusing on the potential impact of APD devolution on English regional airports. The industry already pays no VAT and no fuel duty. It wants there to be reduced APD, or not tax at all, on flights. There can be no logical justification for an industry that largely serves leisure travel to pay no tax and make no contribution to public finances. Thirty Tory MPs have also written to Osborne, concerned about the impact on Bristol airport if there APD was not charged by Cardiff airport.

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Scottish Government to consult on impact of halving, and then removing, APD

The Scottish government intends to remove Air Passenger Duty (APD) from flights departing from Scottish airports, in the hope of attracting more flights. Scottish ministers hope cutting APD would encourage more direct flights from Scotland and reduce the need for connecting flights via Heathrow and Amsterdam. Air travel is already very under-taxed, paying no VAT and no fuel duty. The Scottish Government says it will halve APD during the Scottish Parliament’s next term, which will run until around 2020. That will mean about £200 million in lost tax to the government, and the Scottish government has to reimburse the UK Treasury. Scottish ministers want APD cut completely “when public finances permit.” There is to be a new policy forum to look into the implications of removing or reducing APD, and a policy consultation this autumn. The forum will include some environmental groups, as well as aviation lobbies. There would be increased CO2 emissions from Scottish aviation if there was a 50% cut in APD, and even more so with no APD. The Scottish government will have to explain “which other sectors of society will pick up the shortfall and at what cost.” More cheap holiday flights for Scottish people is likely to increase the tourism deficit, with more money flowing out than is brought in by in-bound tourists.

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Treasury opens consultation on protecting regional airports from impact of devolving APD

In the Summer 2015 Budget, the Chancellor has announced a short consultation (ends of 8th September) on options for supporting English regional airports from the impacts of Air Passenger Duty (APD) devolution. Sootland may remove APD, and so may Wales. Airports in the north of England are concerned they could lose passengers, to cheaper Scottish flights. The consultation sets out three options for changes to APD. The first is devolving APD within the UK, with powers over APD devolved fully or partially to local authorities within England. The second is varying APD rates within England, so central government would retain powers over APD for the English regions. The rates of UK APD would be varied according to specific criteria, resulting in different rates in different parts of the country. The third is to provide aid to regional airports within England, which have been adversely affected by the devolution of APD. This could be through the Regional Air Connectivity Fund, mainly for the smallest airports and those with up to 3 million passengers per year may be permitted investment aid only in ‘case specific circumstances’. Many airports likely to be affected could be too large to be eligible for aid.

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Levy on frequent leisure flyers proposed to make airport expansion unnecessary – if the tax on flying was fair, no new runway would be needed

Plans for a “frequent flyer” tax to curb demand for leisure flights and make a new runway in south-east England unnecessary have been unveiled by an influential group of transport campaigners, environmentalists and tax experts. These include the Campaign for Better Transport, the New Economics Foundation, the Tax Justice Network, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth among others. In a letter to the Observer – in order to remove the alleged “need” for a new south east runway – they put forward the concept of allowing each person one tax-free flight per year, but increasing the rate of tax for people who fly frequently. The levy would rise with each successive flight. This would mean that instead of APD (£13 per return flight to Europe) there would be a higher rate of tax for frequent fliers. Their analysis shows that 15% of the UK population take 70% of all the flights, while half of us don’t fly at all in any given year. Rather than a new runway being vital for business, the reality is that it would be used for the better off to take more leisure flights (holidays or visiting friends and family). The proposed levy would mean the number of flights would be cut to a level that would make a new runway unnecessary. The authors of the scheme have also shown that this change to the taxation of air travel would also ensure the UK could comply with its obligations under the Climate Change Act.

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Government confirms APD devolution to Scotland

The UK government has published a document, “Scotland in the United Kingdom: An enduring settlement”. It sets out the Smith Commission Agreement on devolving powers to Scotland. This states: “The power to charge tax on air passengers leaving Scottish airports will be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Government will be free to make its own arrangements with regard to the design and collection of any replacement tax, including consideration of the environmental impact. ….if such a tax is introduced by the Scottish Parliament to replace Air Passenger Duty (APD), the Scottish Government will reimburse the UK Government for any costs incurred in ‘switching off’ APD in Scotland. … A fair and equitable share of associated administrative costs will be transferred to the Scottish Government. ….The clause includes provision for appointing the day when APD will be switched off in relation to Scotland.” Abta and the Airport Operators Association (AOA) have responded the plans to devolve APD to Scotland by demanding consistency across the UK. They claim this will affect the competitiveness of regional airports in the north of England.

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London Chamber of Commerce & Industry says London should keep £1bn raised in APD from its airports

Colin Stanbridge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce & Industry, says the amount of APD (Air Passenger Duty) levied on flights using London airports should be allocated to London. As the largest number of long haul flights are from Heathrow, it generates the most APD, with around £1 billion – around one third – coming from London airports. Mr Stanbridge says: “Now that Edinburgh and Belfast will control APD in their areas surely it must be the case that London will follow suit.” The Chamber of Commerce wants there to be no tax at all on flying, and for APD to be abolished. But meanwhile it would be “more appropriate for London’s Mayor to oversee London airport APD….. We would like to see the funds invested in critical infrastructure projects in the capital such as Crossrail 2, Tube upgrades or a much-needed new road bridge for east London to name but a few. …The devolution of responsibility for this major transport tax would represent another power for London in the ongoing fight for greater fiscal devolution to the capital to help stimulate local growth”. The Treasury estimates full abolition of APD would result in up to £4bn in lost revenue per year – other estimates are higher.

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Air Passenger Duty on economy flights for children under 12 cut from May 2015 (under 16s from May 2016)

In the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor has announced that APD on children’s flights will be scrapped for all economy class tickets (not first class). From 1st May 2015, APD for children under 12 will be abolished and in May 2016, APD for all children under 16 is to go. This means the Treasury will miss out on £40 million in 2015/16 and £85 million in 2017/18 and £95 million in 2019/20. The air travel industry had called for the change on the basis that it would make an annual holiday more affordable for hard pressed families. But in fact it is most likely to benefit airlines, and those on higher incomes taking several flights a year. The families struggling the most financially might at most take one European flight per year (saving £13 per child). Those able to afford long haul trips will save £71 per child – so more savings for the better off? It airlines, airports and tour operators really wanted to help make an annual visit abroad affordable for more families, they could stop hiking their prices during the school holidays. The annual APD tax take will now be £3.2 billion in 2014/15 and still £3.2 billion in 2016/17 (while the 2011 Autumn statement estimated it would be £3.8 billion).

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Air Passenger Duty to be devolved to Scotland, which wants to halve & then scrap it

The Smith Commission, to see how powers including taxation could be devolved to Scotland, says that the Scottish Parliament should be able set income tax rates and bands and Air Passenger Duty should be fully devolved. At present, APD is charged by the Treasury only because air travel is significantly under-taxed, paying no VAT and no fuel duty. There is no logical reason why air travel, which is a luxury product, for discretionary spending, should be exempt from tax. This is particularly the case when the richest sections of society do the most flying, and of the 50% or so who do not fly in any one year, many are less affluent. The Scottish Government wants to halve and then remove APD. For the UK, APD raises about £3 billion per year, and of this about £200 million is raised in Scotland. In theory cutting APD would perhaps increase the number of tourists coming to Scotland. In reality, it is likely that many more Scots travel abroad for their holidays, taking their spending money with them, than foreign tourists flow in. Cutting the tax, and losing the tax revenues from the public finances, may not be wise if it just boosts outward tourism. Airports in the north of England are concerned about losing passengers, who could fly cheaper from Scotland.

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Industry lobby “A Fair Tax on Flying” new campaign to try to get APD reduced for children

Another year; another Autumn Statement by the Chancellor. This year’s will be on 3rd December. And so another push by the industry lobby “A Fair Tax on Flying” to try to get the rate of tax on air travel cut. In the UK, as in most countries across the world, air travel is under-taxed. For historical reason, air travel pays no tax on jet fuel. In Europe, air travel is zero-rated for VAT. APD is the only tax paid on UK air travel, and that is at the rate of just £13 per return flight per person, for any destination under 2,000 miles from Britain. APD nowhere makes up the deficit of tax lost. The net loss to the Treasury annually may be about £9 billion. The “A Fair Tax on Flying” lobby, whose members are entirely from the aviation and travel industries, now is having a go at getting the Chancellor to cut APD for any child under 12 years old. They claim this is an unfair tax on children, and on what they try to make out is the virtual necessity of foreign holidays by air for everyone. This is a self serving campaign by the lobby, to boost its trade. They gloss over the inconvenient fact that they will raise the price of air travel during school holidays and half terms etc, and charge far, far more per passenger than merely the £13 for a European trip.

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Aviation Environment Federation asks: “Air Passenger Duty – what is it good for?”

A great analysis of APD, by James Lees of AEF, shows aviation as a whole enjoys significant tax exemptions, including paying no VAT or fuel duty. For an industry with a very significant environmental impact – only car travel comes close as a transport mode in emissions per km – this is an anomaly. If UK aviation paid VAT and fuel duty at the same rate as motorists then around £10 billion could be raised for public finances. APD by comparison raises £3 billion annually. When modelling how future UK passenger demand could be restrained to the level compatible with climate targets if a new runway was built, the Airports Commission assumed the cost of emitting a tonne of CO2 increased from £3 today to £600. This would add £43 on to a shorthaul flight compared to £13 for the basic rate of APD (to anywhere in Europe). The industry likes to claim £13 of APD is ‘pricing families out of the skies.’ In reality an average family (of 4) holiday in Europe is over £2,000. Of that APD is under 3%. AEF says: “We are yet to see evidence that indicates the 52% of the UK population who don’t take a flight each year view APD as the main financial hurdle.”

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Willie Walsh lobbies yet again … regular as clockwork … for cuts in APD … Autumn Budget Statement is on 3rd December

Every year before the Budget in the spring, and the Autumn Budget Statement, the aviation industry has go at trying to get Air Passenger Duty reduced. APD is charged on air travel, in order to partly make up for the fact that aviation pays no VAT and no fuel duty. The industry therefore gets a large annual tax subsidy. However, the airlines would like it cut, in order to sell more flights – many of which are taking Brits out of the UK to spend their holiday money abroad. But that does not stop Willie Walsh proclaiming that APD is “out of control” and saying there have been “relentless rises” in the tax. That is nonsense. APD has risen from £12 to £13 for any flight to Europe (Band A), over the past 5 years or so. The rate for flights in Band B (2,000 to 4,000 miles) has risen from £120 in 2011, to £138 now, and will rise to £142 in April 2015. That is an 18% rise in 4 years. Willie says, in blatant self interest for airline profits, that “APD has snowballed out of control” (what ??) and outrageously that scrapping APD “would boost Britain’s economic growth by 0.5% within a year and lead to the creation of 60,000 new jobs.” In reality, in the March 2014 Budget, the Chancellor cut the rate of APD on trips of over 4,000 miles, to only be £142, which means a net loss to the taxpayer of £215 million in 2015.

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APD rate on business jets to rise from x4 standard up to x6 by April 2015, while Treasury receipts from APD fall by £250 million by 2019

March 20, 2014

The changes to APD in the budget include 3 components; for the next 2 years the rates of APD for Band A (up to 2,000 miles) at £13 and Band B (2,000 to 4,000 miles from London) at £67 continue to rise at the rate of RPI; after April 2015 APD for distances further than 4,000 miles will be at the Band B rate of just £71; and private jets will after April 2015 pay APD at 6 times the rate for standard passengers, up from 4 times the rate in 2014 (and 2 times the rate in 2013). There were some 228 million UK air passengers in 2013, of whom some 120 million were to Europe, some 69 million were to longer haul destinations, and some 38 million were domestic. Of the long haul passengers, some 20 million were to Band C and D destinations (4,000 to 6,000 miles from London, and over 6,000 miles respectively). The Treasury estimates that the revenue generated by Air Passenger Duty will be some £3.0 billion in 2013-14,rising to £3.9 billion in 2018-19. Earlier estimates put the revenue as £4.3 billion in 2018-9. The removal of Bands C and D in 2015 is expected to reduce receipts by the Treasury by £0.2 billion a year on average from 2015-16. They anticipate £215 million less in 2015-6 rising to £250 million less in 2018-9. But they anticipate the losses will be this low due to growth in the number of air passengers

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Chancellor cuts rate of Air Passenger Duty for long haul (over 4,000 miles) flights from 1st April 2015

March 19, 2014

In the Budget 2014 the Chancellor has announced that rates of Air Passenger Duty (APD) are to be reduced for flights of over 4000 miles from London, from April 2015. Rates of APD will rise by the rate of inflation (RPI) during 2014. After 1st April 2015, distance bands for all journeys longer than 2,000 miles will all be lumped together. While the rate of APD during 2014 (from 1st April 2014) is £13 for a return trip below 2,000 miles (anywhere in Europe), and the rate for journeys of 2,000 to 4,000 miles in length is £69 – the rates from April 2015 will be £13 for the short flights, and £71 for all other distances. The rates of APD in 2015 for premium classes will be £26 and £142. Commenting on this retrograde move by the Chancellor, the Aviation Environment Foundation said it is a backward step environmentally and economically. Aviation is already massively under-taxed compared with the £10 billion that would be raised per annum if aviation wasn’t exempted from fuel taxes and VAT. APD was a means of redressing this problem but any cut means that taxes will have to be raised elsewhere to balance government spending. Long-haul flights contribute more greenhouse gases in absolute terms than shorter flights. It is therefore right that the duty is proportional to the distance flown and the associated emissions. Eliminating bands C and D breaks the link between environmental impacts and tax and breaches the principle of fairness.

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Some 250 CEOs write to Chancellor (yet again) to try and stop APD rises in line with RPI due in 2014

December 1, 2013

Regularly, every few months, there is another push by the aviation industry and its supporters, to get Air Passenger Duty (APD) reduced or scrapped. There is an other of these lobbying events again now. Some 250 chief executives have written to the Chancellor, accusing the Treasury of “ignoring evidence that APD is harming the economy.” The UK has one of the highest aviation tax regimes in the world. Most other countries barely tax aviation. Several others in Europe do tax in one way or another. The reason the tax is charged is that UK air travel pays no VAT and no fuel duty. APD is intended to reduce this massive tax break, and in some way and incompletely, put a fair amount of tax onto air travel. The aviation and business lobby ignore this, and claim APD has a substantial negative effect on the UK economy. They ignore the need for fair taxation, and the Treasury’s need for revenue. The businesses say: ….we are bitterly disappointed with the Government’s decision to keep increasing a tax which acts as a barrier for business in attracting inward investment and creating new jobs.” They quote a study earlier in the year by PwC on which the Treasury commented: “We do not recognise the figures in this report or agree with the assumptions behind it.”     Click here to view full story…


German study: air travel taxes are an important instrument for climate protection

December 2, 2013       . A study in Germany has been commissioned by a range of development and environmental organisations, into the effects of taxing aviation. It found that charging some taxes to air travel does not lead to movement of passengers from German airports to use foreign airports or to job losses in the aviation business – which is what he Federation of German aviation industry claims, probably incorrectly. The report says that additional revenue should be generated from air travel, to help fund mitigation and adaptation to climate change in developing countries. The organisations are calling on the coalition government in Germany to keep, and increase, air travel tax. The tax started in January 2011, and is charged based on distance travelled with rates of €7.56, €23.62, or €42.52 for short, medium and long haul flights. In Germany, as in the UK and in most of Europe, jet fuel is exempted from the energy tax on international flights and VAT is not charged. This tax break amounts annually to about €10.4 billion euros lost to the German tax authorities, which is massively more than the approximately €1 billion from air travel tax currently paid. The report wants to see taxation incentivise the most efficient utilization of planes.       Click here to view full story…


Treasury Minister confirms APD is necessary and government has no plans to reduce it

27.10.2013      .On 23rd October there was an “Opposition day debate” in the Commons, on Air Passenger Duty -especially in relation to Northern Ireland. There were attempts by some MPs with no interest in environmental concerns, to make out that APD is a “green tax”, (and so, along with other “green taxes” should be cut, in the misjudged belief that would benefit the UK economy. The new Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Nicky Morgan, replied for the government, that “we must continue to work hard to reduce the deficit, so if we were to abolish APD, an alternative source for the revenue would need to be found. We never seem to hear any suggestions,” and “….the £3 billion that is raised by APD is a significant contribution to the Exchequer when we are tackling the deficit.” And “There is also no duty charged on the fuel used in international, and virtually all domestic, flights. …..despite the fiscal challenges, the Government have ensured that APD rates have been frozen in real terms since 2010, rising by just £1 for the vast majority of passengers since then. The Government therefore reject the suggestion that we have pushed taxes on aviation too high.” 

Anti-APD campaign wastes no time in lobbying new shadow minister, Lilian Greenwood

September 10, 2013     . After the resignation of Jim FitzPatrick as a Labour opposition transport spokesman on 29th August over Syria, his shadow aviation responsibilities have been taken over by Lilian Greenwood (MP for Nottingham South). The aviation industry has lost no time in lobbying her on Air Passenger Duty. British Air Transport Association (BATA) say her new role “offers an ideal opportunity for the opposition to put pressure on the government between now and the next election to review the impact of APD on the UK economy.” While APD does no harm the UK economy, it has a very slight impact on demand for air tickets (it is only £13 for a return flight to anywhere in Europe), so the aviation industry is deeply opposed. All the lobbying ignores the fact that the Treasury charges APD because air travel pays no VAT and aviation does not pay fuel duty. People on internal return flights within the UK pay £26 in APD as each part of the trip is charged. Scotland has long lobbied to get APD devolved to the Scottish Government, with businesses campaigning to get APD removed. 


Report shows EU governments miss out on up to €39bn a year due to aviation’s tax breaks (no VAT or fuel duty)

July 30, 2013      . A report has been produced, by consultants CE Delft, for the sustainable transport group, Transport & Environment (T&E). It shows that debt-ridden EU countries miss out on up to €39bn every year from airlines not paying taxes. CE Delft found that this revenue shortfall is due to out-dated EU laws exempting international flights from fuel taxes, and from VAT, which is levied on almost all consumer goods. While every European consumer, small business and haulier has to pay on average a tax of €0.48 / litre of fuel for petrol or diesel, big commercial airlines – both those based in the EU and overseas – don’t pay any tax on their fuel. This revenue shortfall totals up to €32bn a year. In addition to this EU governments miss out on €7.1bn every year on VAT which is exempt on international flight tickets. T&E’s aviation policy officer Aoife O’Leary said: “International airlines are like flying tax havens inexplicably exempted from paying the basic EU taxes every EU citizen and company is obliged to pay.” However the airline industry says that without such tax holidays it would be hard pressed to turn a profit. (So much fuel used. So much CO2 generated. So little profit.) The EU consultation on state aid to airports & airlines closes 25th September.


Latest ‘Fair Tax’ campaign focuses on business

20 June 2013      .A Fair Tax on Flying has launched a new initiative [yet again!] to highlight opposition from businesses to Air Passenger Duty (APD). The latest initiative encourages UK and international companies to add their support to a petition hosted on the campaign website – – which says that ‘As APD continues to increase each year, our competitive position gets worse, not better. In the current economic climate, the Government should be making it easier for companies like ours to travel overseas to win new business.’ Businesses are also being asked to add their names to a letter to their local MP and the Chancellor, which campaign organisers plan to send later this summer.

For full details of the latest initiative click here.   And it continues. To see full story see


Scots want APD devolved to Scotland before 2014 Games, and London flight guarantees

May 27, 2013    In 2014 the 2014 the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup will be held in Scotland. This, together with the recent decision by Flybe to sell all their landing slots at Gatwick, has prompted more calls to the Treasury,by the Scottish government to, get devolution of APD (Air Passenger Duty). Scotland wants to both deal with their own air travel tax, and also get guarantees of London airport slots for Scottish flights. Heathrow and Gatwick prefer larger planes to more profitable long haul destinations, and smaller planes from domestic airports are less lucrative for them. The Scottish government are claiming that the extra cost of £13 per flight within the UK (£26 for a return flight) is deterring tourists coming from London. As air travel pays no fuel duty and no VAT, removing or reducing APD would make the sector even more under-taxed than it is at present. The Flybe Gatwick slots will be taken over by EasyJet, which is likely to use them for more profitable destinations abroad, as that would make more money for shareholders than UK flights.    Click here to view full story…

Industry furious that Budget ‘puts beer before aviation’

21.3.2013   (TravelMole)   The Government has been berated by airlines and the rest of the UK travel industry for failing to put an end to APD misery in his latest Budget. Dale Keller, chief executive of the Board of Airline Representatives, said it was “beyond belief that the Chancellor has put beer before aviation”.  “Just because the industry was fully expecting a slap in the face from the Treasury does not make it any more palatable,” he said. Simon Buck, chief executive of British Air Transport Association, said in light of “incontrovertible evidence” that the tax is damaging the UK economy “the missed opportunity to help kick start our economy is a shocking own goal”.   He added: “1p off a pint of beer won’t do much to help those who might otherwise have been looking forward to new jobs.” And there is lots more in that vein at   link 

No change to the rate of APD in the Budget – it will continue to rise at the rate of RPI

No change of rate of APD in the Budget. It will continue to rise at the rate of the RPI. The Budget document says: Air Passenger Duty (APD) rates – As announced at Budget 2012, APD rates for 2013-14 will rise in line with the RPI from 1… April 2013. (Finance Bill 2013) Budget 2013 announces that APD rates for 2014-15 will rise in line with RPI from 1 April 2014, as set out in Overview of tax legislation and rates. (Finance Bill 2014) The Government has no plans to vary APD rates by levels of airport congestion.
Treasury expects to get, from APD: year 2013/14 £2.9 billion; 2014/15 – £3 bn; 2015/16 – £3.3bn; 2016/17 – £3.5bn; 2017/18 – £3.8 bn. Budget document. Pages 86 and 103

Budget coming up this week – so it’s time for the habitual bash at APD by the airlines…

March 17, 2013    With the budget coming up on the 20th March, the airlines do their usual predictable attack on Air Passenger Duty, in the vain hope that the Chancellor will be persuaded to let flying be a bit cheaper, and agree to the Treasury forgoing an important source of revenue for the UK economy. The last attempt the airlines had was a report that they had written by PWC, with a range of claims about APD. The FT reported in February that a Treasury spokesperson said APD, which is forecast to bring in £2.9bn this year, makes an “essential contribution” towards helping meet the government’s deficit reduction plans. “We do not recognise the figures in this [PWC] report or agree with the assumptions behind it”   FT link    Air Passenger Duty is charged because there is no VAT on aviation, and the industry is zero-rated. There is also no fuel tax on jet fuel. So APD is charged, because of these tax breaks the industry receives. The aviation PR spin is that aviation is vital to the UK economy. In reality, around 80% of trips made by air from the UK are for leisure purposes, the majority taking Brits to spend their money on trips abroad. Cutting APD would only be beneficial to the aviation industry. It would not benefit the UK as a whole.    Click here to view full story…

PwC report on APD met by dismissive comments from Treasury – Chancellor has no intention of lowering APD

February 5, 2013   The 4 largest airlines in the UK (British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, EasyJet and Ryanair) commissioned a report from PwC on Air Passenger Duty (APD). The intention was to try and get APD reduced, or removed altogether. PwC put together arguments that the UK economy would benefit, if flyers could fly slightly more cheaply. There was a range of arguments, including more tax take, more investment, spin offs of all sorts. However, this has cut no ice with the Treasury. The pressure from the 4 airlines got a frosty response from the Treasury, which made clear that the Chancellor had no intention of lowering APD. The FT reports that a Treasury spokesperson said APD, which is forecast to bring in £2.9bn this year, makes an “essential contribution” towards helping meet the government’s deficit reduction plans. “We do not recognise the figures in this report or agree with the assumptions behind it,” the Treasury said. The report also had to admit that making flying a bit cheaper would have a negative impact on parts of the UK economy, as yet more Brits took they money to spend abroad.    Click here to view full story…


Airlines have another go at trying to get rid of APD. Reminiscent of turkeys and Christmas.

February 4, 2013    EasyJet has produced two press releases, making out that a new study done for the airline industry shows that the UK economy would benefit if Air Passenger Duty was cut. EasyJet, BA, Virgin and Ryanair commissioned PwC to investigate the possible effect of abolishing APD. Using elaborate contortions of facts and logic, and glossing over the point that the main beneficiaries of abolishing the tax would be themselves (not UK plc) they ignore the inconvenient facts that the majority of air travel takes Brits abroad, to spend their money elsewhere. Only a minority – around 20% at most – of air passengers from the UK are on business. The study also ignores the fact that air travel pays no VAT and no fuel duty – making it a very special case, and very under-taxed in comparison to other sectors. Much of the “logic” behind the calculations by PwC of the suggested economic benefits of removing APD involve indirect effects, such as boosting tax take in a variety of sectors, increasing investment, and presumed spin off effects of this over time. All very dubious. No industry likes to pay tax, but there is no reason why air travel – largely discretionary spending by the better off – should escape a fair level of tax. These APD claims by the 4 airlines really are stunning nonsense.   Click here to view full story…


HMRC modelling of potential impacts of changes in APD between airports – Heathrow APD higher

December 30, 2012      In October, the HMRC produced a report looking into the impacts of charging different amounts of Air Passenger Duty (APD) at different UK airports. The hope is that if APD was lower in the regions, and higher at Gatwick and Heathrow, then the number of flights could be evened out – boosting regional airports and taking pressure of Heathrow, and also Gatwick to a lesser extent. As APD is a relatively low tax (and air travel pays not VAT and no fuel tax) the study found that small changes to APD would have very little effect – people would rather pay a bit more for the convenience, or they would have to pay more to travel to another airport which had lower APD – so getting no net saving. The study did find if APD was increased by 50% on flights out of Heathrow the number of passengers might fall by some 22%, with travellers switching to other airports in the south-east and the Midlands. The analysis suggests passenger numbers at Stansted would increase by 20% and by 25% at Luton by 2020. This might have the potential to take some pressure off Heathrow. Click here to view full story…

More complaints from the aviation industry about being charged APD

December 3, 2012    If there was no tax on wine or spirits, the chances are we would buy more of them. Likewise on all items on which there is tax – which is most things. But the aviation industry wants to retain its status of being under-taxed, and continues to complain about having to pay Air Passenger Duty. And that being taxed, it sells less of its product than if it was taxed less. APD is charged by the government, at a rate of only £13 for a short haul return flight to Europe, and higher rates for longer trips, because airlines pay no fuel duty on jet fuel, and the whole industry pays no VAT. APD would, however, need to rise to three or four times its current level to offset the value of the industry’s exemption from fuel duty and VAT. The industry has continued its lobby against APD by listing routes that it says have been lost due to APD, such as an Air Asia X route from Gatwick to Kuala Lumpur, several domestic routes (APD is paid for each leg of a domestic trip), and airlines like Ryanair may have decided against new routes due to APD (or very possibly other reasons). The price of APD is due to rise by the rate of inflation in April 2013.   Click here to view full story…

MPs call for total abolition of APD in Northern Ireland

Nov 30, 2012   Northern Ireland MPs say Air Passenger Duty of £13 on short-haul flights to and from Northern Ireland should be abolished. The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee said APD on flights was a major stumbling block to rebuilding the economy in the province.

Such flights make up 98% of all air travel to and from Northern Ireland. The committee wants the Northern Ireland Executive and the Treasury to look at ways of either reducing or abolishing APD altogether.   Committee chairman Laurence Robertson MP said: “For the people of Northern Ireland air travel is not a luxury, it is fundamental to family and economic life.


APD on long-haul flights to be abolished in Northern Ireland

Nov 07, 2012    The Northern Ireland assembly has agreed to abolish Air Passenger Duty on long-haul flights from the province. The tax on direct long-haul flights departing from Northern Ireland airports will be reduced to zero from January 2013.   The abolition of APD was welcomed by finance minister Sammy Wilson as a boost to the Northern Ireland economy.  “They are also vital for the local tourism industry and in attracting foreign direct investment to Northern Ireland, both key to growing and rebalancing our economy.

“Abolishing Air Passenger Duty on long-haul flights will help to protect and improve our international air access and ensure the competitiveness of our airports.”

Scottish airports and York Aviation lobbying, yet again, for a cut in APD

November 1, 2012

Scottish airports are, yet again, hoping to get a drop in Air Passenger Duty, to try and keep flights under-taxed. Edinburgh, Glasgow and 
Aberdeen airports are calling on the UK government to abolish APD or at least frozen and then reduced. A new report by York Aviation (they produced one in February 2011 for BAA Scotland) says Scotland will lose 2 million passengers and £210 million a year in lost tourist spending because of APD. Strangely, this figure is massively higher than it was only a year and three quarters ago. In February 2011 York Aviation only said that ” …over the next three years, Scottish airports will lose around 1.2 million passengers, with the largest numeric losses on domestic services.” So a very sharp increase. Dodgy assumptions and calculations? York Aviation and the airports, as they always do, only consider tourist income of visitors coming to Scotland, and completely ignore the money lost by Scots flying out to spend their holiday money abroad.  Click here to view full story…

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

October 23, 2012    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?    Click here to view full story…


Why is the allegedly responsible, green, Co-op sponsoring the anti-APD campaign?

September 14, 2012    The Co-op’s travel company, Co-operative Travel, which last year merged with Thomas Cook, is backing the campaign against Air Passenger Duty. The Co-op prides itself on being ethical, and states that “Our pioneering involvement in Fairtrade and combating climate change reflects the values of our members and their desire to build a better future for themselves, their families, their communities and the wider world.” But not, apparently, when it comes to its Travel company. On learning of the Co-op’s support for the anti-APD campaign, Cait Hewitt from the Aviation Environment Federation said: “It’s extraordinary that it seems the Co-op is using their customers’ money to support industry lobbying to cut aviation taxes”. John Stewart commented: “The involvement of Co-operative Travel with this campaign badly tarnishes its claim to be green and ethical. Many of its members will be shocked at its decision to join this alliance.” The Co-op could do with some complaints about this double standard.    Click here to view full story…

Airlines commission report into APD impact

20.8.2012   Four of the UK’s biggest airlines have commissioned their own survey into the impact of air passenger duty on the country’s economy. Rivals BA, Virgin Atlantic, Ryanair and Easyjet, which came together last year under the banner ‘Axe the Tax’, have asked accountancy firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PWC) to investigate the impact of APD. ,

The report is expected to be released in the autumn and will look at the effects of the tax.  The move is another way of the travel industry cranking up the pressure on the government over APD.  A Fair Tax on Flying alliance, which includes travel companies and associations, is approaching its target of 100,000 people using its website to contact their MPs to protest against APD.    Click here to view full story …


Industry’s APD email campaign hits 100,000 target

22.8.2012    An anti-APD campaign has reached its target of having 100,000 people write to their MPs to protest against the tax.   A Fair Tax on Flying alliance, which consists of travel companies and organisations, launched the campaign in June by setting up a website which allowed people to use a template to send an email to their MP.  The industry has now also set up a facility which allows non-UK residents to also complain about APD.

The alliance is urging people to continue to use the website,, to contact their MPs to keep up the pressure on the government.  David Cameron has so far received 200 anti-APD emails from constituents while other cabinet members such as Michael Gove (606 emails),  Philip Hammond (547) and Theresa May (487) are among the top 10 most emailed MPs.  The alliance has been boosted by a group of MPs launching their own early day motion calling for the treasury to “commission a comprehensive study into the full economic effects of aviation tax in the UK” before next year’s budget.   So far, 75 MPs have signed the motion including former Liberal Democrat leaders Charles Kennedy and Ming Campbell.



Opponents hit back on industry campaign to stop increases in Air Passenger Duty

July 4, 2012    AirportWatch has hit back at the aviation industry’s A Fair Tax on Flying campaign with its own Fair Tax on Flying campaign – suggesting that the £8 billion plus tax subsidy the aviation industry already enjoys must be reconsidered. The industry is lobbying for no further rises in Air Passenger Duty. Public awareness is needed to counter the industry’s suggestions that APD is “unfair” and “too high” when the aviation industry is benefiting from tax breaks through paying no VAT or fuel duty, at a time when the Coalition Government is having to make drastic cuts to public services, to save money. The airline lobby’s new A Fair Tax on Flying website highlights ‘key facts’ convenient to their cause and glosses over others. AirportWatch shares the view of the industry campaign that there should be a “comprehensive study into the full economic effects of aviation tax in the UK” which the industry is calling for. The tax does indeed need to be fair.  Click here to view full story…


Government orders research into regional rate for air passenger duty

June 20, 2012    Chloe Smith, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, has said – at a meeting with the Sedgefield MP and Newcastle airport and Durham Tees Valley airport – that the Government has commissioned research into varying APD on a regional basis. The research, planned to be published this summer, will consider the potential impact of a regional APD rate as well as devolving the power to set the tax north of the border to the Scottish Government. There has been a campaign in the region, by the Journal newspaper, to get APD changed, claiming it has adverse economic consequences. Newcastle Airport wants APD to be charged at a higher rate at the biggest, most congested airports (south east), and a lower rate from uncongested regional airports.    Click here to view full story…


Aviation industry “Fair Tax on Flying” promoting their campaign to cut APD, yet again…

June 18, 2012    “A Fair Tax on Flying”, an alliance of more than 30 airlines and tour operators, has launched (yet again) a new website which it hopes will encourage at least 100,000 Britons to register their opposition to Air Passenger Duty (APD). The campaign wants people to send a standard letter to their MP (no possibility to adapt or alter the letter, or for the person to add their own words) to complain about having to pay APD. The campaign complains (yawn, we have seen this several times before) that other European countries pay less tax on air travel. The campaign does not give the slightest hint that the reason why the UK government charges APD is because air travel pays no VAT and no fuel tax. This is all very self serving, and predictably self interested, PR by the travel industry. Somewhat irresponsible too.   Click here to view full story…

Opinion: Time to replace APD with a ‘per plane’ duty

May 29, 2012    A ‘per plane’ duty has a number of advantages over APD, writes Tim Leunig, chief economist at liberal think tank CentreForum.  The aviation sector dislikes air passenger duty, particularly now that it is a significant sum, particularly for long-haul flights. But, frankly, APD is here to stay, and stay it should. It is here to stay because the government needs the money, and it should stay because aviation would otherwise be hugely undertaxed. Remember that aviation counts as public transport, and is thus exempt from VAT because it counts as a necessity. How flying halfway round the world on holiday could ever be described as a necessity is quite beyond me!  And he goes on to give lots of reasons why a per plane tax is a better idea than VAT, and lots of figures.  Click here to view full story …..

Slowdown in cheap flights gives boost to British economy (APD is not deterring others from visiting the UK)

April 30, 2012    New figures published by the Office of National Statistics show that the British are taking almost 20% fewer overseas holidays compared to 3 years ago, whilst the number of foreign tourists visiting the UK is virtually unchanged. This means a major boost for the UK Balance of Payments and shows that the Government’s policy of increasing APD is actually benefiting the UK economy, contrary to the claims made by the UK’s major airlines – and foreign tourists are not being deterred by APD from visiting the UK. The latest statistics show a decrease in overseas leisure trips by UK residents from 60 million to 49 million between 2008 and 2011 leading to a reduction in the UK’s tourism trade deficit from £20 billion to £13 billion. Inbound tourist numbers fell by just 300,000 over the same period. The boom in cheap leisure flights and the generous tax breaks given to the aviation industry actually harm the UK economy and damage traditional UK tourist destinations  Click here to view full story…

APD ‘shows little impact on sales’ for long-haul

March 28, 2012     Hayes & Jarvis is reporting an ‘unexpected’ long-haul bookings boost, with the Americas and Caribbean doing particularly well. They said bookings for the Caribbean are up 37% overall, despite fears passengers would be put off by having to pay more APD than other destinations. Dominican Republic is seeing an 800% increase in bookings; Cuba is reporting a 66% increase; and St Lucia is up 55%. Mexico has seen a bookings surge of 143%, fuelled by demand for ‘value’ among people opting for upmarket all-inclusive packages. The Caribbean destinations have argued the current APD banding system is unfair, because passengers to the Caribbean pay more than, for example, passengers to the US, even though flight times are similar.    Click here to view full story…

Osborne delays launch of government aviation consultation to “summer” – keeps APD, and rise next year by the RPI

March 21, 2012     The Budget states that Air Passenger Duty (APD) rates will rise from April 2012, as had been set out in the Autumn Statement 2011. APD rates for 2013-14 will rise by the RPI from 1 April 2013. The aviation industry campaign to try and get APD reduced or removed has cut no ice with the Chancellor.   Click here to view full story…

More stories on the airlines’ publicity push to get APD reduced or scrapped …

March 17, 2012    This goes on and on. The aviation industry complains that they cannot pay tax, or else they will not be able to grow and prosper, and they need to keep their low tax status. They also make out, repeatedly, (and incorrectly) that the UK economy is dependent on having growing air travel, in order to prosper. This week Virgin Atlantic has again joined forces with easyJet, IAG and Ryanair to demand the Government commissions an independent study of the economic effects of Air Passenger Duty. They say it is “fantasy economics to continue to impose such an uncompetitive tax without any analysis of its impact.” Sigh. This again conveniently omits the fact that air travel pays no VAT and no fuel duty, so the overall effective annual subsidy, even taking account of the new rates of APD starting on 1st April, is around £8.5 billion per year. That’s money not paid to the UK treasury for public services etc.    Click here to view full story…

Aviation industry pressure on government to cut APD. Again.

March 12, 2012     The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has commissioned a report by Oxford Economics, to put pressure on the government, before the Budget on 21st March, to cut Air Passenger Duty (APD). APD is the tax on air travel that the UK charges, because air travel pays no VAT and pays no fuel duty. The WTTC report makes out that huge numbers of UK jobs would be lost because of the tax and huge numbers of jobs ….. based on deviously contorted logic. The government is expected to collect £2.8 billion in extra tax from air travellers over the next 12 months.The Treasury appears unmoved, and has commented that “unlike some other European countries, the UK does not levy VAT on domestic flights and aviation fuel is not taxed. The aviation industry will also benefit from the cut in corporation tax.’    Click here to view full story…


Under-taxed Aviation Industry wants to pay even less tax! It wants APD removed!

March 11, 2012     A report due out tomorrow will claim that Air Passenger Duty (APD) is hurting the economy. But it fails to address the reason for the tax. The report from Oxford Economics, and commissioned by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), will claim that removing APD would result in an additional 91,000 British jobs being created and £4.2 billion added to the economy in 12 months. AirportWatch Chair John Stewart condemned the report “as a little more than a self-interested attempt by the aviation industry to pay its full share of taxation. It pays no tax on it fuel and is zero-rated for VAT”. The aviation industry is actually under taxed. Not over taxed. In 2010/2011 the exemption from fuel tax and VAT was worth more than £11 billion to the airlines. After deducting APD revenues of around £2.5 billion in 2012 after the rise this coming April, the net benefit is around £8.5 billion – equivalent to a subsidy to the airlines of about £360 per household. John Stewart said“The Government has rightly ignored the special pleading of the aviation industry to pay even less tax. There is no indication that this latest report from the industry’s favourite consultant will change the Government’s mind.”    Click here to view full story…


“Fair Tax on Flying” – the aviation industry lobby group – is complaining about APD, yet again

Date added: March 3, 2012

Fair Tax on Flying is at it again. They are resurrecting their rather unsuccessful , and entirely self-serving, campaign last year, to lobby government to cut Air Passenger Duty. The campaign’s members are all airlines, airports, travel companies that make their money out of people flying, and the more passengers they get, the happier they are. There are the usual claims about how catastrophic the tax is for the UK economy, (£13 for a return flight to anywhere in Europe), rising to higher levels for longer flights. Their rather unsuccessful Facebook page is back in use. Bit like deja vu. They did just about the same thing last March, with little effect on the Chancellor. In effect, the aviation industry is under-taxed, even with APD. The industry pays no VAT and no fuel tax, unlike road vehicles. This huge subsidy (the benefits the aviation industry by around £9 billion per year in the UK) effectively distorts the travel market, and deprives the Exchequer of revenue needed for public services for UK citizens.

Click here to view full story…


Willie Walsh makes yet another attempt to get APD cut, this time using the Olympics as the excuse

Date added: March 1, 2012

Willie Walsh has used the occasion of the IAG Full Year Results for 2011 as a justification for not only a stab at intimidating the government to rethink its rejection of a third runway at Heathrow, but also to have another go at APD. He claims, using some slightly questionable figures, that APD will cut the number of Olympic visitors (has he seen the way London hoteliers have hiked their prices in order to profiteer during the Games?) and that APD will reduce the number of extra staff BA or IAG employ this year. He claims – or implies – that IAG would employ an extra 800 staff this year ….. (they only employed an extra 228 staff in 2011 when profits increased 5 fold) but can only employ 400 instead. The figure of 400 is not backed up by any evidence. He also claims BA’s unit fuel costs rose 21% in 2011. IATA data on jet fuel price showed it was at most a 17.8% increase.

Click here to view full story…


Virgin accuses government of “ignoring” APD consultation

Date added: December 17, 2011

Virgin Atlantic is complaining that the government did not listen to the request of the aviation industry for no increase in air passenger duty, and for just two bands of APD by distance. They have managed to get, through Crawley MP – Henry Smith – details of the consultation responses (not released to the public) to see how many respondents wanted the current system to remain. “54 out of 70 respondents called for the reclassification of premium economy. Just 11 out of 70 supported retaining the existing double-rate on premium-economy fares”.

Click here to view full story…


Business Jets over 5.7 tonnes to be charged APD after April 2013

Date added: December 10, 2011

Business jets will be charged Air Passenger Duty from April 2013. The Treasury says the reason for not charging it from April 2012 is that “changes will bring a substantial number of new operators into the APD regime and will require the introduction of special rules tailored to business aviation.” APD will be charged on any jet with more than around 6 – 8 seats, depending on the model. Many private jets in practice carry just 2 or 3 passengers. AEF figures on the CO2 emissions per private jet passenger, compared to premium class on a commercial airline, show them to be 3 – 8 times higher.

Click here to view full story…


BA says it will cut back on hiring new staff due to APD rise

Date added: December 7, 2011

BA says it will take on only 400 people, not 800, next year. It says this is because of the rise in APD. It does not mention the effects of the economic recession in reducing demand for air travel. Willie Walsh claims the damage done to the UK economy (from the tax rising from £12 to £13 for flight of less than 2,000 miles, or a rise from £60 to £65 for one up to 4,000 miles) will be greater than the tax raised. This ignores, as the aviation industry always does, the tourism deficit caused by more Brits flying out of the UK to spend money abroad, than tourists flying in.

Click here to view full story…


Scottish airports disappointed by decision not to devolve APD

Date added: December 7, 2011

Because the government agreed to cut APD rates in Northern Ireland, Scottish airport operators are dismayed that contol of APD had not been devolved to the Scottish government. Scottish aviation says if APD were devolved they could provide the means to incentivise airlines to provide new direct international connections to Scotland. The UK Treasury said it had not ruled out devolving APD to Scotland and Wales in the future.

Click here to view full story…


AirportWatch welcomes Air Passenger Duty increase

Date added: December 6, 2011

In these difficult economic times it is absolutely right that the aviation industry and its customers join the rest of society in making their fair contribution towards the country’s finances. Aviation remains greatly under-taxed compared with most other sectors of the economy. Aviation still pays no fuel duty and no VAT and even with this APD increase the industry still lbenefits to the extent of around £8.5 billion per annum.

Click here to view full story…


Government retains APD distance and class bands

Date added: December 6, 2011

Air Passenger Duty rate banding for both distances and seat class will not be changed, the government has said. The 4 distance bands will be retained. There will be no reduced APD rate for premium economy. The government said any banding system would produce some anomalies, and the 4 band system produces fewer than a 2 band system. APD will increase 10% from 1 April 2012 as announced in the Budget last week and business jets of 5.7 tonnes or more will be included from 1 April 2013.

Click here to view full story…


Autumn statement by Chancellor. U-turn on Gatwick and Stansted airports and consideration of estuary airport. But APD will rise in April

Date added: November 29, 2011

In this autumn statement, George Osborne – in a desperate attempt to boost the economy – has turned his back on environmental safeguards and the green economy, to encourage high carbon infrastructure. He has said he wants to improve, performance and resilience of airports. He says the Government is committed to maintaining the status of the UK as an international hub for aviation, with excellent connectivity to both developed as well as emerging markets. He said “And we will explore all the options for maintaining the UK’s aviation hub status, with the exception of a third runway at Heathrow.” So that means runways at Gatwick and Stansted are to be considered again, as well as looking at an estuary hub. However, on the plus side, even with all the lobbying by the aviation industry for APD to be reduced or frozen, the rates will rise in April 2012 in line with inflation. [APD announcement on 6th December for a 8% approx rise from 1st April 2012] .

Click here to view full story…


AirportWatch says airlines must pay their fair share of the fuel tax burden

Date added: November 17, 2011

In a letter to the Chancellor in advance of the Pre Budget Report AirportWatch has pointed out that those who travel by air have it easy compared to those who travel by car. Motorists pay 58p a litre duty on their fuel. Motorists pay a further 22p VAT on their fuel. Motorists pay 20% VAT to have their car serviced. Airlines pay NONE of these. Motorists pay 20% VAT to buy their car. Airlines pay no tax on new aircraft. APD would need to be quadrupled to compensate for the fuel duty and VAT exemptions enjoyed by the aviation industry. In 2010/11 the exemption from fuel tax and VAT was worth more than £11 billion to the airlines.

Click here to view full story..


Four airlines complain to Chancellor that they want APD scrapped

Date added: November 17, 2011

EasyJet, Ryanair, IAG and Virgin Atlantic have written to the Chancellor to complain, yet again (and as APD will be reviewed in the Chancellor’s autumn statement next week) that they want APD cut. They are trying to make out that passenger numbers have fallen due to APD, rather than the economic recession. The “hard working family” argument is trotted out again (though most flights are taken by the rich. They, as usual, ignore the tourism deficit and the inconvenient fact that they pay no duty on fuel and no VAT on anything.

Click here to view full story…


Budget confirms no new APD rise in 2011 but business jets likely to be taxed, after consultation

Date added: March 23, 2011

At long last business and private jets are to be included in APD. For decades the anomaly persisted of the righest fliers being tax-free. Though the aviation and travel industries had lobbied hard for a cut in APD, the Chancellor has frozen the tax for this year, with rises in line with the Retail Price Index likely in 2012. The banding is to be made more fair to the Caribbean. A Treasury consultation on APD has now started, largely on taxing private jets.

Click here to view full story…


Aviation and travel industries hoping there will be no rise in APD

Date added: March 21, 2011

The aviation and travel industries are hoping APD will not rise in the budget. Travel companies from around the world have been trying to persuade the Chancellor to reverse plans to raise APD.  Some 65 corporate travel departments, travel management companies and tour operators have sent a letter to Mr Osborne warning that the UK is losing business to other, more affordable destinations and not getting meetings, incentive trips, conventions and tourism.  Click here to view full story…


Evening Standard speculates that airport tax to rise as George Osborne looks for funds

Date added: March 17, 2011

The Standard considers another rise in APD is possible in the budget next week.  It says the Government is also finalising plans to impose new taxation on private jets as ministers scramble to raise money to plug the country’s deficit.  Wednesday’s Budget may widen the APD net so that corporate and private jets are liable to pay the tax. as aircraft with a take-off weight under 10 tonnes or fewer than 20 passenger seats are currently exempt.

Click here to view full story…


“I want to pay Air Passenger Duty on all my flights”

Date added: March 11, 2011

A blogger explains why he is happy to just pay APD, which is hugely lower than the taxes on flying would be if jet fuel was taxed in a way comparable to petrol, and if VAT was added.  He concludes that £12 on a flight to Barcelona is a lot cheaper than £37 on fuel duty and £7 on VAT. And that if the government did not get in the estimated £2.2 billion this year in APD, the government would need to tax elsewhere or cut services. NHS? Schools?

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Government’s air travel tax pledge in doubt

Date added: March 10, 2011

Last year’s coalition manifesto contained a pledge to reform APD, a tax imposed on all passengers on planes leaving the UK except those who are on transfer, to curtail greenhouse gas emissions. Both parties in the coalition had said they wanted to tax “per plane” to give airlines the incentive to cut down on their carbon footprint. It now seems the coalition has now shelved the plan, unable to make the change as it falls foul of EU laws.

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Aviation industry launches “Fair Tax on Flying” campaign, wanting yet more tax concessions

Date added: March 3, 2011

A new aviation industry (an alliance of over 25 airlines, airports, tour operators, destinations and trade associations) campaign, Fair Tax on Flying, launches today. It is calling on the chancellor to stop a planned rise in aviation taxes. The industry says APD puts the UK at a competitive disadvantage when compared with our European neighbours and punishes UK holidaymakers and business travellers unfairly. They omit to mention that aviation pays no fuel tax and no VAT.  Click here to view full story…


Scottish government says it will seek powers if re-elected to cut APD to help boost flights

Date added: February 25, 2011

Alex Salmond has said his SNP will seek powers to reduce UK Air Passenger Duty on Scottish air travellers if re-elected to office in parliamentary elections in May.  He believes cutting APD would not impact on Scotland’s climate change goals as having more direct flights abroad would reduce the need to travel and connect through Heathrow and would be cost neutral as lost tax revenue would be made up for by the increased number of flights.

Click here to view full story…


Families forced to pay 269% more for holidays (by the travel companies) in popular weeks

 So much for their concern about the extra cost of Air Passenger Duty to their passengers !

17.2.2011 (Daily Express)    FAMILIES are being charged up to 269% more to go on holiday over the half-term break.    On average, trips for the week of February 19 to 26, when most British schoolchildren are off, are 53% more expensive than going two weeks later.  It means a family of four, going to some of the most popular destinations including Florida, Lanzarote, Mallorca, Gran Canaria and Crete, will have to pay an average of £1,132 more.   Those travelling to British favourite Lanzarote will be hit by the steepest price rises, with one four-star resort charging half-term guests an extra £4,619. The price for two adults and two children for a week over half-term is £6,339, compared with just £1,720 two weeks later.  [A 369% increase. By comparison the APD IS £12 per person (now £13 in 2012)  for a flight of under 2,000 miles  link ]  Packages with flights departing from London airports face the biggest price increases – on average 67% more expensive than the same flights two weeks later.  Those travelling from Manchester airport will pay 40% more, according to research by Santander Credit Cards.