Airlines call for Air Passenger Duty to be scrapped


Michael O'Leary of Ryanair and Willie Walsh of the International Airlines Group unite in opposing the tax

Four airlines from the UK and Irish Republic are calling for the UK government to scrap Air Passenger Duty.

The tax, which is applied to almost every ticket on a flight originating in the UK, has risen sharply since it was introduced in 1994.

When APD was introduced, passengers whose journey originated in the UK paid between £5 and £40 per ticket. They now have to pay from £24 to £170.

It is opposed by Easyjet, Ryanair, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways.

The airlines say it penalises British holidaymakers and makes the UK a less attractive destination.

The amount of APD that passengers have to pay depends upon whether their flight is short or long-haul, with business and first class travellers having to pay more than those with an economy ticket.

A Treasury spokesman said that the government had frozen APD this year, and that, unlike many other countries, the UK did not levy VAT on flights.

Environmental campaigners opposed the airlines' move, saying APD helped combat global warming.

"Air Passenger Duty plays an important part in tackling aviation's significant impact on climate change," said Richard Dyer of Friends of the Earth. "Ministers must stand up to this unfair lobbying."

Revenue raising

BBC transport correspondent Richard Lister said: "The chancellor put this year's increases on hold, but a further rise of around 10% is expected next year.

Start Quote

We consulted on a range of reforms to APD, including simplifying the tax and making it fairer by extending APD to private jets”

End Quote Treasury spokesman

"The airlines say that as the tax was first introduced to combat greenhouse gas emissions it should be abolished with the introduction of the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme next year.

"The government is considering making changes to Air Passenger Duty, but has made clear that it regards the tax as an important way of raising revenue, and expects it to generate more than £2bn this year."

Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary told the BBC that removing APD would not increase the airlines' profits.

"This has nothing to do with our profits. It is paid by families, paid by passengers going on holidays," he said.

"If it is scrapped, the money goes straight back into families' pockets."

Mr O'Leary also said that as a result of APD, 30 million fewer overseas visitors had come to the UK in the past five years.

He added that with UK passengers having to pay the new Emissions Trading Scheme tax from January, they will be "taxed on the double".

Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group, the owner of British Airways, called on Chancellor George Osborne to set up an independent review of APD.

"This tax is hugely damaging and must be scrapped," he said.

"We challenge the chancellor to undertake an independent review, which will show that the net effect of this tax is damaging."

Consultation process

A Treasury spokesman said: "We consulted on a range of reforms to APD, including simplifying the tax and making it fairer by extending APD to private jets.

"We will say more on this in the coming weeks.

"It is also important to remember that the UK is not the only country with an passenger duty, and unlike many other countries the UK does not levy VAT on flights."

At the start of this month APD was reduced for direct long-haul flights from Northern Ireland, in response to competition from services in the Irish Republic, which has an Air Travel Tax of just three euros to any destination.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 272.

    @ 211: gohunter.

    Good call. Just signed.

    Just another hit on the British taxpayer. Same as VAT on tax paid for petrol (tax on tax!!!). The Gov't started this as a "Green" tax but the money raised is only used as another revenue stream for the Gov't. It seems successive Gov'ts in this country know one solution to all problems: tax it until it goes away.

  • rate this

    Comment number 271.

    I don't like paying income tax, could the government please abolish that?

  • rate this

    Comment number 270.

    268.Steve - you've clearly never travelled on a third world train system if you think the over crowding on any of trains is that bad.......the vast majority of third world countries have no limits from a safety perspective....

  • rate this

    Comment number 269.

    Government should tax aircraft fuel the same as petrol, and charge airlines tax for bringing fuel into the country to prevent airlines filling up abroad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 268.

    Why not keep air passenger tax on short flights with a good rail alternative (like LHR to CDG e.g.)?
    Then really invest all the money into the improvement of rail services (e.g. fight those 3rd world overcrowding on UK trains)?

    At the same time introduce a price cap of £x/km so nobody gets ripped off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 267.

    So the airlines are against the tax - bearing in mind we do not levy VAT on air travel where should the government get their money out of this industry.

    As ever the airlines think it is a god given right for people to fly no it is a luxury and as such we should remove APD and levy 20% VAT on the flights.

  • rate this

    Comment number 266.

    @230 + 177

    As I've now been modded on another thread without even getting to post, I think I'll find a forum where I actually have the freedom to express an opinion

  • rate this

    Comment number 265.

    "another stealth tax introduced by gordon brown." In 1994??! I guess number 10 did get that DeLorean after all!

  • rate this

    Comment number 264.

    The proposed new tax is likely to reduce travel to poorer places such as the Maldives and Caribbean who depend on tourism. This tax could actually make them more dependant on foreign aid. I feel that countries that are dependant on tourism should be excempt or have a reduced tax.

  • rate this

    Comment number 263.

    Perhaps, everyone should accept that the cost of flying amounts to more than just the raw materials to get you from A to B. Maybe the cost should be prohibitive to force everyone to think twice about flying in the first place. Plus, airports are awful, awful places. Why would you wan't to spend any more time in one?...

  • rate this

    Comment number 262.

    Isn't aviation something like 2% of global CO2 emissions? And agriculture is 10%? And a for climate change isn't agriculture largely responsible for the methane and NO2?
    The thing is, ooh, evil planes and cars but if you want to talk about environment you can't just pick and choose which bits offend.
    Mainly though, these costs are nothing to to with the environment, thats the pain in the rear

  • rate this

    Comment number 261.

    So if the government were to scrap Air Passenger Duty, would these airlines promise to scrap their Fuel Surcharges, Insurance Charges, Security Charges, Credit/Debit Card Surcharges and Checkin Luggage Surcharges, and would the airports promise to scrap their Passenger Service Charges, Civil Aviation Surcharges and Airport Surcharges?

  • rate this

    Comment number 260.

    Let's face it,this government only wants the rich to be able to fly away on holiday,drive a car or enjoy any other comforts which they seem to believe should only be for those with lots of money,like themselves,bankers and other "mates".
    Money spinning taxes to keep us peasants in place.

  • rate this

    Comment number 259.

    Isn’t is sad that such comment as 191 “I'm sure there are many out there that can only dream of flying abroad.” can produce negative reactions. We seem to be living in a country with a growing self-centred selfish attitude that the World owes us everything and I’m sure this will surpass my previous comment with even more negativity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 258.


    It's another of Gordon's spurious taxes. "

    I was unaware that Gordon Brown was Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1994 when APD was first introduced. Whilst conspiracy theorists might argue Thatcher's motivation for setting up the IPCC in 1988 was with the foresight that GB would need tax raising excuses, this can be discounted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 257.

    Lets cut the taxes on fuel first

  • rate this

    Comment number 256.

    Another of Gordon's taxes. Really shocking how awful Labour are when they get going, I think we'd all forgotten but 13 years of misrule, mad control freak laws, importing foreign voters, uncontrolled borrowing and sovereignty erosion certainly taught us Labour are just the party of tax and waste.

  • rate this

    Comment number 255.

    @239 Foreign tourists bring in dollars and euros, dirhams and riyals, to name a few. We need foreign currency to pay our way in the world. Domestic tourists pay in pounds and don't contribute to our exchange reserves. It is not a clear-cut picture about balance since some who can't afford to holiday abroad can also not afford UK prices, in for example a train and hotel in Cornwall in the Summer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 254.

    @ 233-234 - it's the nice Mr O'Leary whose country tried to shaft the UK by reducing taxes to next to nothing to steal English speaking jobs and then cried to the BoE to rescue it when it all crashed about them - I suspect Mr OLeary's companies played a part in forcing the Dail Eireann to pass low taxation under the blackmail of moving Ryan Air to say Lithuania or Niger perhaps...

  • rate this

    Comment number 253.

    @237. Stewart

    I agree. Travelling by rail to Europe is only viable if you can miss out most of the UK part of the journey and the extortionate price thereof. Not to mention the drunks, the dirty trains, the delays etc.


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