Aviation policy

ABTA’s Public Affairs team works across many aviation policy areas, ensuring the optimal environment for travel businesses and their customers. Our aviation work includes lobbying to keep taxes at levels that promote sustainable growth, securing important passenger rights, and seeking to enhance the UK’s connectivity and international competitiveness.

Air Passenger Duty

The UK has the highest rate of air departure tax in the EU, and one of the highest in the world. Air Passenger Duty (APD) – a departure tax charged on all passengers departing from UK airports – is a regressive tax that inhibits UK competitiveness and penalises those least able to afford it, including the young and families. 

ABTA continues to call on the Government to ensure that APD rates are consistent and competitive across the UK. We are a founding Member of the 'A Fair Tax on Flying' campaign alliance. For more information on the work of the campaign, please visit www.afairtaxonflying.org.

Airport expansion and infrastructure

The UK aviation network is the third largest in the world after the USA and China. Aviation benefits the UK economy and jobs, accounting for about 1.2% of total UK employment. Leisure aviation is a critical component of the UK’s aviation mix. 

ABTA has been at the forefront of debates around the need for additional airport capacity in the South East. Existing airports are predicated to reach capacity by 2025, according to the Government’s Updated Passenger Demand Forecasts, leaving the UK behind its European and global competitors. 

Whilst additional capacity is vital, especially in a post-Brexit Britain, any new runway must be cost-efficient and improve international connectivity. This approach will enable cost savings for consumers, and deliver maximum benefits to UK businesses. Importantly, expansion must also be sustainable, and take full account of the need to minimise aviation’s environmental impacts. 

Aviation is important for the whole of the UK. Beyond the expansion debates in the South East, ABTA is committed to working for best use of existing capacity elsewhere, and seeking improvements in surface access to UK ports and airports. We regularly contribute to policy debates in these areas.