Asia welcomes lower fees for UK Air Passengers Duty
Finally some good news came out for UK travellers. The British Government announced on March 19 that, from 2015, the Air Passenger Duty will be simplified in structure with all long haul travellers departing UK airports set to pay the same figure irrespective of their destination.
British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne told MPs in the House of Commons during his spring Budget statement that “from next year all long-haul flights will carry the same, lower, band B tax rate that you now pay to fly to the United States”.
The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) welcomed the decision of the UK Government to reform its punitive Air Passenger Duty (APD). With effect from 1 April 2015, the two higher bands of APD for long haul destinations will be abolished, and all long haul flights beyond 2,000 miles will be taxed at the band B rates of £71 ($118) per economy passenger, and double that amount or £142 ($235) for business class passengers.
Responding to the announcement, Andrew Herdman, AAPA Director General said, “The APD is a regressive tax on aviation that does untold damage to the broader economy, threatening the UK’s competitive position as a major business services hub and popular tourist destination.”
Mr. Herdman added, “Indeed, in the Chancellor’s own words, this tax ‘hits exports, puts off tourists and creates a great sense of injustice.’ Whilst the reform announced yesterday is a positive first step, there is a clear case for completely abolishing this tax. We hope the UK Government will move further in that direction, recognising the positive role played by aviation as a key catalyst of social and economic development.”
Newly-elected Skal Thailand President Dale Lawrence also welcomed the UK government’s decision to revise its ‘tax on travel’ but says more must be done to reduce the financial burden on British business and leisure travellers to Thailand and south east Asia.
Dale Lawrence says, “This news will be welcomed by the entire travel and tourism community in Thailand. Air Passenger Duty has been exploited relentlessly by successive governments – particularly under Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown – since it was introduced in 1994 at the very modest rates of £5 (UK & European Economic Area) and £10 for other destinations”.
“The revised two-tier tax band, whilst a welcome move, continues to discriminate against long haul leisure destinations such as Thailand and is an unnecessary burden on MICE visitors and also on British business leaders seeking to boost trade between the two Kingdoms. Let us hope that as the UK economy continues to recover from the global economic downturn there may be further room for manoeuvre by government ministers and that this tax on travel will be jettisoned”, added Lawrence.
The APD raised controversies and an outcry from the entire travel and tourism industry as it has heavily burden travellers budget. Martin Craigs, PATA CEO, even spoke from an act of denying freedom for UK citizens, talking of a “detention tax”.