Air Passenger Duty

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Air Passenger Duty (APD) is an excise duty which is charged on the carriage of passengers flying from a United Kingdom airport on an aircraft that has an authorised take-off weight of more than ten tonnes or more than twenty seats for passengers. The duty is not payable by inbound international passengers who are booked[1] to continue their journey (to an international destination) within 24 hours of their scheduled time of arrival in the UK. (The same exemption applies to booked onward domestic flights, but the time limits are shorter and more complex.) If a passenger "stops-over" for more than 24 hours (or the domestic limit, if applicable), duty is payable in full.

As part of the 2008 Pre-Budget Report, Air Passenger Duty was restructured.[2] These new charges take distance into account, making long distance flying significantly more expensive. Critics[3] of APD's claimed environmental credentials point out that the tax takes no account of the efficiency of the aircraft. An airline using an old inefficient plane is treated equally to one using the latest most efficient engines. Charges initially rose on 1 November 2009 and then again on 1 November 2010. Before this, Air Passenger Duty was controversially[4] doubled[5] from 1 February 2007, and the lower rate was extended to all the countries within the Single European Sky. This table summarises the changes:

Old Rate Previous rate Feb 2007 - Oct 2009
European destinations, lowest class £5 £10
European destinations, other classes £10 £20
Other destinations, lowest class £20 £40
Other destinations, other classes £40 £80

Here, 'European destinations' includes countries in the European Economic Area and certain other European countries.

The distance used to calculate the new rate of APD is the distance between London and the capital city of the destination country as summarised below:

New Rate from Nov 2009 from Nov 2010 from Apr 2012 from Apr 2013
Band A (0 – 2000 miles) £11 £12 £13 £13
Band B (2001 – 4000 miles) £45 £60 £65 £67
Band C (4001 – 6000 miles) £50 £75 £81 £83
Band D (over 6000 miles) £55 £85 £92 £94
Band - From 1 April 2013-31 March 2014 Reduced Rate – for travel in lowest class available on aircraft* Standard Rate – for any other class of travel
Band A (0 – 2,000 miles) £13 £26
Band B (2,001 to 4,000 miles) £67 £134
Band C (4,001 to 6,000 miles) £83 £166
Band D (Over 6,000 miles) £94 £188
  • If the seating in the lowest class has seats spaced at more than 40 inches then the Standard Rate applies.

Flights from Northern Ireland have been charged at Band A from 1 November 2011. From 1 April 2013, APD was extended to cover flights on "business jets". (Source: Revenue and Customs website – data retrieved 22 July 2012.)

Band - From 1 April 2014 - 31 March 2015[6] Reduced Rate – for travel in lowest class available on aircraft* Standard Rate – for any other class of travel
Band A (0 – 2,000 miles) £13 £26
Band B (2,001 to 4,000 miles) £69 £138
Band C (4,001 to 6,000 miles) £85 £170
Band D (Over 6,000 miles) £97 £194

The Treasury forecast that the 2007 rise would cut carbon dioxide emissions by about 0.3 million tonnes a year by 2010-2011, and all greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 0.75 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year,[7] although that has been disputed.[8]

In 2011, the Treasury launched a consultation on potential revisions to Air Passenger Duty. In their consultation they stated "Air passenger duty is primarily a revenue raising duty which makes an important contribution to the public finances, whilst also giving rise to secondary environmental benefits".[9]

Air passenger duty is paid upon booking, but not collected until an occupied seat flies. Should a passenger be unable to fly they have a right to claim the paid tax back from the airline, although many airlines will charge an administrative fee for this service.[10]

A £0 rate of APD applies to flights from Northern Ireland direct to a band B, C or D destination as of 1 November 2011. This is due to Continental Airlines threatening to stop the direct Belfast - Newark flight due to lack of demand because of the tax.[11]

The Chancellors Autumn Statement, on 29 November 2011, announced an 8% increase in UK APD set for April 2012.

The tourist minister of Kenya, Najib Balala, criticised the Air Passenger Duty for hurting tourism and economy in developing countries.[12]

From 2015, the highest APD band will be Band B.[13]

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