The cost of domestic air travel decreases after air passenger fees are reduced for flights within the UK
Families face paying more for their big vacations and visits to relatives in remote locations after Rishi Sunak said that taxes on long-haul flights would be increased.
The Chancellor has increased Air Passenger Rights (APD) for flights of more than 5,500 miles, which include places like New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Japan.
The Treasury is likely to count the move as a demonstration of Sunak’s commitment to the green agenda ahead of next week’s Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.
Families are facing paying more for their big vacations after Rishi Sunak said that taxes on long-haul flights would be increased.
But Sunak also said that flights between airports in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be subject to a new lower APD from April 2023.
The changes mean that the cost of a BA business class flight between Heathrow and Belfast will be reduced by £ 50.
Reducing air passenger service on domestic flights is a staggering move that fully counteracts the climate emergency.
This has enraged the environmental group Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions, which tweeted: ‘Rishi Sunak should invest in trains, not eliminate passenger tariffs on domestic flights. Fly in the face of [the] climate emergency ‘.
And Friends of the Earth policy chief Mike Childs said: “Reducing air passenger rights on domestic flights is an amazing move that fully counteracts the climate emergency. The Chancellor should make it cheaper for people to travel the country by train, not on carbon-intensive planes.
“The air passenger tax should have been increased for all flights, or even better it should have been replaced with a frequent flyer tax, aimed at curbing multiple flights taken by a minority of people each year.
“As the prime minister prepares to host the crucial climate summit next week, this retrograde step is another example that the government’s carbon-reduction plans don’t add up.”
The Treasury revealed earlier this year that it was considering raising taxes on flights to the most distant destinations to make the “polluter pay.”
Currently, APD is charged in two tax bands: for flights of up to 2,000 miles and for trips of more than 2,000 miles.
People on long-haul flights already pay £ 80 APD. Domestic flights pay the short haul fare of £ 26 for the return journey. While airlines pay the APD, much of the cost tends to be passed on to travelers.
Sunak said: “Right now, people pay more for return flights within and between the four UK nations than when flying home from abroad.
‘We used to have a return leg exemption for domestic flights, but we were asked to remove it in 2001. But today I can announce that flights between airports in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be subject to a new lower fare. as of April 2023. air passenger rights rate. ‘
The changes mean that the cost of a BA business class flight between Heathrow and Belfast will be reduced by £ 50
He added: ‘We are also making changes to reduce carbon emissions from aviation. Most of the emissions come from international and not national aviation.
‘So I am introducing, as of April 2023, a new ultra-long-haul band in air passenger service, covering flights of over 5,500 miles, with a budget fare of £ 91. Less than five percent of the Passengers will pay more, but those who fly further will pay more.
The chancellor is punishing British citizens with relatives in distant destinations. London to Hong Kong, 5,976 miles; or to Auckland, New Zealand, with 11,386, are among the hardest hit by the new ultra-long haul tax band
In response, Tim Aldersdale, CEO of Airlines UK, said: “ Reducing the domestic air passenger service rate will correct an anomaly that has been around for too long and greatly improve connectivity to and between all regions of the UK. , which will support the viability of the route. and allow companies and sectors of the economy to access markets, attract internal investment and support our tourism industry.
“For many people and companies who want to do business in the UK or see family and friends, especially in Scotland and Northern Ireland, air travel is still the only viable option. This will make a tangible difference in their lives, providing more choice and frequency to consumers, and uniting all parts of the country.
Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: “The Chancellor is punishing British citizens with relatives in distant destinations. London to Hong Kong, 5,976 miles; or to Auckland, New Zealand, with 11,386, are among the hardest hit by the new ultra-long distance tax band. It would be better for the government to invest more in the sustainable development of aviation fuels so that airlines can fly on zero-emission fuel as soon as possible.
However, cutting APD to fly through the UK is a welcome move and will help connect parts of the UK that are in poor condition or cannot be served by train. It is a boost for regional airports that can plan for further growth and renew investment programs frozen by the pandemic ”.
The interim general secretary of the Balpa pilots union, Martin Chalk, issued fierce criticism of the changes to the chancellor’s APD.
He said: “Although we welcome the reduction of the domestic APD, the creation of a new band for long-haul flights does not make sense. Now it will be much more difficult to take advantage of our recent free trade agreements with countries like Australia and New Zealand and it also unfairly penalizes those who need to travel more than 5,500 miles to see their relatives. This goes against the government’s global British agenda.
“As UK aviation could barely see the light at the end of the tunnel, this budget does not provide any support for our once world leading aviation sector and does not recognize the contribution we make to UK PLC.”