I want to pay Air Passenger Duty on all my flights
You don’t? Let me explain.
You see, a recent consortium of assorted airline type folks wrote a letter to Mr George suggesting he abolish Air Passenger Duty (APD) completely on flights leaving the UK.
The twenty-five travel companies and organisations (including British Airways, Tui, Thomas Cook, Abta, BAA and Virgin Atlantic) think that abolishing APD, which has rocketed a whopping 325 per cent over the last six years, would not only help out our poor, long-suffering British families, but also improve the UK’s economic outlook, as the tax is putting people off flying and coming to the UK. Apparently a decrease in flight numbers has everything to do with the APD and nothing to do with the fact that no one has any money as we are in a recession.
The campaign has a catchy name (Fair Tax on Flying) and a whole lot of indignation behind it. Still if the issue was as burning in consumer minds as they would have us believe, perhaps they wouldn’t have needed to use such leading questions as this in their ‘impartial’ survey...
At present, the UK government collects Air Passenger Duty (APD) from every passenger flying through a UK airport. The amount of APD paid depends on the distance of the flight and whether you are travelling in economy or business class. As an example, a British family of four flying from a UK airport to Florida in economy class will pay £240 to the British government in flight tax. Do you think that this tax on flights is, too much, about right, not enough?”
But, perhaps you should be careful what you wish for. APD currently brings in an estimated £2.2 billion in tax- rising to £3.6 billion in 2015. Not an amount to be sniffed at. If the Chancellor were to abolish APD, he would have to make up that shortfall somewhere, or somehow, else. Where would you like to see £2.2 billion shaved? The NHS? Schools? Any remaining public services?
Of course, the alternative to cuts is to levy another form of taxation. Given the fair tax on flying alliance wants us to be fair, why not levy VAT and fuel duty on air travel from which air travel is currently excluded? After all, when we fill up at the pump we pay 58.95p per litre in fuel duty and then pay VAT on top. That would be fair, now wouldn’t it?
Fair, but astonishingly expensive. Would you rather pay £12 per person to fly to Barcelona or the tax on the 1414 mile round trip- at 100 miles per gallon (4.55 litres) per person, that’s a measly £37.92 in fuel duty and £7.58 in VAT on the fuel duty. That’s almost four times as much wonga out of your pocket (because you can be sure the airlines won’t shoulder the cost), not taking into account the VAT on the cost of the fuel itself. And don’t even bother thinking of flying to Australia...
Besides, we all know that the ‘taxes’ part of the ‘fees,taxes and charges’ added on by airlines when trying to book their £1 flights to Los Angeles is only a very small proportion- can you really see the bucket airlines passing the whole saving on? Perhaps they would have a new ‘non-accounting for non-tax’ charge instead?
All in all, if I were a member of the consortium, I would stop and think how good I actually have it. Besides, surely the people lobbying should be the passengers, after all, we are the ones who are paying the levy in increased air fares.