Skift Take

Everyone dislikes it, everyone complains about it, and studies show it hurts outbound tourism. But the myopic Brtish government just loves the revenue too much to give it up.

The Transport Secretary admits that Air Passenger Duty is an issue, but says there is no chance of a reduction

The Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin MP, has admitted that the high levels of tax levied on travellers from British airports is an issue which “needs to be looked at and investigated”. But he immediately ruled out any reduction in Air Passenger Duty (APD) in the current economic climate.

Speaking at the Abta Travel Matters conference in London this morning, he deflected a question as to whether he was “comfortable” with the current levels of the tax, which rose again in April and which has sharply increased the cost of air travel in recent years.

The minister said that APD was a matter for the Treasury, and he predicted that any approach to the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be met with a straightforward response: “just find me another £3 billion, and we’ll talk”.

At the same event, the new Virgin Atlantic Chief Executive Officer, Craig Kreeger, called for a reduction in the tax and criticised the way that higher rates for some long haul destinations interfered in the ability of travellers to make a free choice about where they wanted to go on holiday. In particular, he argued it discriminated against Caribbean countries, where Virgin has a major programme of package holidays.

The most recent rise in APD was the fifth in as many years. The rate paid is calculated by measuring the distance from London to the final destination’s capital city, which means that those visiting Los Angeles, for example, pay less than those flying to the Caribbean, even those LA is farther afield.

A family of four flying to Europe contributes £52 in APD each time it flies, those flying to North America pay £268, those visiting the Caribbean or India pay £332, while a family going to Australia or Argentina must contribute £376.

How tax on flying has soared

Air Passenger Duty paid by a family of four in economy class

1997 2007 2009 2010 2012 2013
Band A (0-2000 miles)


£20 £40 £44 £48 £52 £52
Band B (2001-4000 miles)

USA, Canada, Egypt

£40 £80 £180 £240 £260 £268
Band C (4001-6000 miles)

Caribbean, Thailand, India

£40 £80 £200 £300 £324 £332
Band D (6000 miles+)

Australia, Argentina, Singpaore

£40 £80 £220 £340 £368 £376


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Tags: fees, politics, uk

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