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 332.

    No one forces you to fly, so stop moaning and pay up, stay in the Uk or travel by road, rail or ferry.

    I've choosen to stay in the UK for holidays for the last 2 years and forgo the 'being treated like cattle' on the plane or like a 'terrorist' at the airport and I've enjoyed every minute of every holiday, whether it be to Derbyshire, Manchester or Scotland.

  • rate this

    Comment number 331.

    are you just writing this to get a reaction? How culturally derived you must be to never step out of this country. How can you say you've lived if you've visited no farther than Skegness?! Get a life!

  • rate this

    Comment number 330.

    Michael O'Leary of Ryanair and Willie Walsh of the International Airlines Group. Both Eire citizens.

    We had to bung the Irish Republic £7bn. last year to sort out their little local financial difficulty. Don't O'Leary and Walsh realize this money has to come from somewhere?

  • rate this

    Comment number 329.

    APD isn't the main reason why inward tourism from Europe doesn't reach it's potential.

    Thats down to the high cost of being in UK (hotels, restaurant food, attractions), the cost of currency exchange, and the hassle of border controls which are only now going to get even more onerous post Brodie Clarke.

  • rate this

    Comment number 328.

    Arrogant airlines I was disgusted to see they do not pay VAT on tickets. That needs to be imposed on this luxury now. The APD is trivial and needs to be more. Flight is grossly too cheap being untaxed on its fuel. NO one needs to fly. It is not food. Foreign holidays should be much more expensive you are taking money out of the country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 327.

    4 Minutes ago

    "Given that no air travel is ever essential"

    So how should I travel to St Petersburg in Russia next month.? I am very open to suggestions

  • rate this

    Comment number 326.

    I call for income tax to be scrapped.

  • Comment number 325.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 324.

    Dont know what the APD that is raised is used for so cant comment on wether its good or bad but for people blighting our capital to say it makes the UK a less attractive place to visit is a bit odd

  • rate this

    Comment number 323.

    308.James Daly

    'The other examples, Blackpool etc. are reachable by train'


    In one post you say you don't want Ryanair/Easyjet 'chavs' spoiling your UK holiday and then you suggest Blackpool as a destination to someone else.

    Are you being serious ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 322.

    If you live in remote parts of the UK flying is the only way to get anywhere quickly. The train from Plymouth to Edinburgh takes at least 8.5 hours, driving takes about the same if traffic is light. Driving to Exeter and then flying to Edinburgh takes about 4 hours. I sometimes have to fly to Orkney from Plymouth and that can take 6 hours but by car or train a couple of days.APD not the answer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 321.

    Yes, I think get rid of the APD - as long as the airlines pay the same VAT and, more importantly, duty as everyone else. Currently the airlines pay NO duty on fuel thanks to the Chicago agreement signed just after the second world war.

  • rate this

    Comment number 320.

    It's a bit rich for the airlines to complain about the Air Passenger Duty, when there are no plans from them to drop their excessive credit card booking fees paid by passengers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 319.

    Given that no air travel is ever essential, and that many, many families are living on the breadline just paying for the things we have to pay for, and have no choice over, such as energy, food and fuel, to ask for a tax cut to benefit those that can afford very large luxuries seems a bit. Shall we say poorly timed. Sorry, but you dont have my sympathy

  • rate this

    Comment number 318.

    A total nonsense - pure self-interest and selfish interest from the Airlines.

  • rate this

    Comment number 317.

    Why not do away with all taxes? Admittedly that would mean no health service, bin collections etc and would probably result in a severe reduction in the population but air bosses and the like would be okay because they live in their ivory towers, don't they....

  • rate this

    Comment number 316.

    300.Peter Bridgemont
    100% with you - the environmental argument just isnt there, more investment, subsidies, incentives etc. is needed in 'greener' transport services if the point is a green one. This goes for the UK AND conneced services to Europe. Extra cost just for profit is not helpful to anyone, regardless of what the green lobby think

  • rate this

    Comment number 315.

    Climate change is a load of over-hyped greenwash used to increase our taxes, restrict our movements & allow for government snooping at local and national level. Its a political agenda to restrict everyone except for the rich who could still afford to fly, and of course flying politicians courtesy of the taxpayer. Think about that next time they fly in to the latest "climate change" meeting!

  • rate this

    Comment number 314.

    Drop APD and charge VAT instead. I booked flights from Exeter to Edinburgh, on flybe, for me, my wife and our 2 year old. The actual flights were 'free' as I had built up enough reward points from driving up and down to Scotland and paying for fuel on a flybe credit card) the cost of the taxes and charges amounted to £230.31 if I was paying VAT it would be much less just devilish card charges.

  • rate this

    Comment number 313.

    Why not take a train instead of flying? Why not consider a cruise ship since it won't be much difference with airline ticket? Don't travel if you don't have the money - it's that simple...


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