Air Passenger Duty


Air Passenger Duty is a punitive tax which is hurting the struggling aviation industry and strangling economic growth at a time when it is most needed.

Air Passenger Duty (APD) has risen by up to 470 per cent since 2007, and we are expecting further increases.

At his 2014 budget the Chancellor, George Osborne, announced the abolition of Air Passenger Duty bands C and D, meaning UK passengers on some long-haul flights are set to pay less tax.

However, the Government failed to address contiued widespread concern about the damaging effects of APD as a whole, with UK travellers having to suffer excessive levels of APD in other bands of travel.

The current rates of APD are:

Destination Bands and distance from London (miles) Reduced rate from: (for travel in the lowest class of travel available on the aircraft) Standard rate from [3]: (for travel in any other class of travel)
  1 April 2014 1 April 2015 1 April 2014 1 April 2015
Band A (0-2,000) £13 £13 £26 £26
Band B (2,001-4,000) £69 £71 £138 £142
Band C (4,001-6,000) £85 Abolished £170 Abolished
Band D (over 6,000) £97 Abolished £194 Abolished
 [1] From 1 April 2013, APD will apply to all flights aboard aircraft 5.7 tonnes and above.

[2] From 1 November 2011, direct long-haul rates for departures from Northern Ireland (bands B, C and D) were reduced to the short-haul rate (band A), irrespective of the destination. From 1 January 2013 the rates for direct long-haul flights from Northern Ireland will be devolved to the Northern Ireland Executive, and set to £0. Direct long haul journeys from Northern Ireland are those where the first part of the journey is to a destination outside Band A.

[3] If any class of travel provides seating in excess of 1.016 metres (40 inches) the standard rate also applies.

A poorly-timed tax on a fragile industry
As the UK economy recovers from the recession, the aviation industry is also struggling. The aviation industry contributes hugely to the economy of the UK and taxing it at punitive levels is causing untold damage to our prospects for recovery.

The British Government’s approach is in stark contrast with other EU countries where they have realised the damaging nature of punitive aviation taxation. The Dutch and the Irish – two big competitor countries for the UK – have abolished their airport taxes.

An environmental tax?
In its recent response to the public consultation on APD which BALPA took part in, the Government has acknowledged, for the first time, that APD is a revenue-raising cash cow for the Treasury, and not in any way an environmental tax.

This is certainly the case. In fact, APD has the perverse effect of increasing carbon emissions. People are drawn to taking connecting flights via European airports such as Amsterdam to avoid APD rather than fly direct which results in more pollution.

The alternative
BALPA believes that the overall level of aviation taxation must reduce, especially with the forthcoming implementation of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) which will put further price pressure on airlines and therefore passengers.

Could aviation do more to cut its carbon emissions? Of course. Is APD going to encourage that? Absolutely not.

The Government should be using policy levers to assist the industry invest in research and development. New technology is going to be the way the industry can cut its contribution to carbon emissions, not artificially constraining demand which has huge knock-on effects on the economy.

A recent study by PwC has concluded that scrapping APD would more than pay for itself, would boost economic prosperity and create 60,000 jobs.  The report’s summary can be found here:

For any further information on APD or any of BALPA’s campaigns please contact Richard Toomer at  

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