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 292.

    The zoning on the APD is also wrong, its supposed to be on distance but the APD to Hawaii is less than the APD to Jamaica"

    It's based on the rather braindead distance to capital city. Washing DC is closer than Kingston Jamaica, so the APD for Hawaii is less despite it being further from its own capital than Washington is from London.

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    APD is in essence an 'airport departure tax' - the sine qua non hallmark of every tinpot banana republic and repressive regime before anyone got worried about the environment. A tax on airtravel to reduce CO2 emissions should be global not local. Pretending we are doing this all on our own for lofty ideals 'to set an example' exposes us to the ridicule we deserve.

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    'Well now; airlines who pay tax would prefer not to. Who'd have thought it?'


    The passenger pays the tax not the airline.

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.

    Tax is fine if it is fair, but It isn't:the total %age of tax paid by the poor is far higher than that paid by more affluent people. If you believe in fair taxes then the take should be the same. If you believe in progressive taxation then the more affluent should be paying a higher rate. The problem is not that tax isn't high enough, but that too much is indirect or stealth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

    keep the taxes! really cheap air fare is environmentally irresponsible anyway!

    family of six? why not try a nice two week holiday to Orkney (i know a gorgeous self catered house up there which sleeps 9 for significantly less than £400 a week!)

    or if the Scottish Isles don't appeal there are always the classic options of Brighton, Blackpool and Wales. Plus, this way you support the UK economy!

  • rate this

    Comment number 287.

    You cannot justify cutting a tax like this whilst slashing benefits for the disabled and pensioners at the same time,that would be utterly indefensable surely? If you are lucky enough to be able to afford a forgien holiday then you must pay tax,not more tax than before,just the same amount.What on earth is wrong with that?

  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    Air travel is out of hand and so is demand for new runways. We go by ferry which I believe is better altho not much fun in rough weather. Many in this country take their children out of school [losing valuable learning time] for 2 + hols a yr so as they can afford it then they should pay tax. I get tired of hearing they have 3 + offspring so cant afford it ,so who forced them to overpopulate???

  • rate this

    Comment number 285.

    The zoning on the APD is also wrong, its supposed to be on distance but the APD to Hawaii is less than the APD to Jamaica

  • rate this

    Comment number 284.

    Well now; airlines who pay tax would prefer not to. Who'd have thought it? I'd like to not have to pay income tax because that would increase my personal wealth. But I can't. Increase passenger volumes? Who'd want longer queues at immigration? Nobody fails to come to the UK because of APD. The airlines want to be a special case, which is why this mustn't be allowed, like ministers using Zil Lanes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 283.

    Form NZ currently I refuse to go via the US because of their paranoia at airports. Adding the UK as the passenger tax not transparent, how do I know the tax goes fully to green initiatives and not just add to govt coffers. [ I fly airlines where there is an option of paying a green levy and there are clear green initiatives associated.]Plenty of the rest of the planet to go to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 282.

    A lot iof people are complaining about how much tax we have to pay. That tax is there so the government can provide the public with the plethora of public services such as education, health and welfare. We stop paying taxes, the state will leave us to fend for ourselves. America has far lower taxes and far fewer public services. You've got to give and take.

  • rate this

    Comment number 281.

    Wow, talk about a slow news day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 280.

    @262 - you are incorrect.
    Agriculture creates methane, NO but is a carbon sink
    Aviation creates COx, SOx and is a resource depletion industry never calculating the true effects on the environment of manufacturing, flying and disposal of an airframe/engines/plastics/etc; plus the extraction of the fossil fuels, refining, transportation.
    Your crude comparison is only one slice of the deal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 279.

    Re 225. Sorry to disabuse you Deano but the overwhelming weight of scientific opinion is that the environmental impact of greenhouse gases arising from human activity is far from negligible. No doubt there are still 'scientists' around who will deny that there is any link between smoking and lung cancer but I think that you'll find that these are in a small minority.

  • rate this

    Comment number 278.

    Scrap planes for 5 years - lets all holiday in the UK and boost the economy:)

  • rate this

    Comment number 277.

    It shows how incompetent UK Government taxation policy is - loop holes for corporates and millionaires paid for by joe public. But we are "all in it together" right Dave?

    This shows the UK tax code needs completely re-writing as a priority. this could close loopholes, increase total tax take and be fairer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 276.

    Leyland510 would like to "slash the benefits of those too lazy to work" - after 2 years fruitless struggle to get a job I would be only too happy to work, thank you - where are these mythical jobs just waiting for a non-lazy person to do them, hey?

  • rate this

    Comment number 275.

    Great! Let's all stop paying tax and then when we close the taxpayer funded schools and hospitals because there's no money for them we can all go private with the cash we've saved. Brilliant! That is, when we are not flying around the planet spending the cash elsewhere. Fantastic!

  • rate this

    Comment number 274.

    "Simple Simon
    Isn't aviation something like 2% of global CO2 emissions?"

    It was (and may still be) the fastest growing component of manmade CO2 emissions and depositing CO2 at 39,000 ft is more damaging than at ground level. However, the principle of salami slicing the problem merely acts to defer taking any action. Some do that deliberately so as to avoid taking any action, of course.

  • rate this

    Comment number 273.

    The reality is the government's Air Passenger Duty is relatively small compared with the mountain of other ripoff surcharges levied by the airlines and airports.


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