27 Aug

Help stop even higher taxes on flights to the Caribbean

With the thousands of friends and relatives jetting over from the Caribbean to London last weekend to enjoy the Notting Hill carnival, Europe’s biggest and best, ABTA is calling on people to write to their MPs to stop the Government once again drastically increasing taxes on long haul flights later this year, following on from significant increases in 2009.  This increase will have a particularly dramatic effect on the cost of flying to the Caribbean making visiting friends and family much more expensive when domestic budgets are already under pressure.

Currently if you fly economy to the Caribbean you pay the Government £50 for the privilege. From 1 November 2010 this goes up to £75, the flying poll tax being called Air Passenger Duty [APD]. This means a family of four going over to visit friends and relatives who currently pay £200 in tax will pay £300 for flights on or after 1 November. If you have paid for a little extra legroom in premium economy you will pay double these amounts.

Travelling to the Caribbean is not the exclusive preserve of the better off with over 100,000 trips being made each year to visit friends and family. Caribbean islands are also heavily dependent of tourism which contributes 14.5% of their GDP and for some islands as much as 70% or more. Visitor numbers have already been impacted by the recession and this hike in APD will put thousands of local jobs at risk.

The British Government has backtracked on claims that APD is a green tax as already the £2 billion pounds raised each year is much greater than the cost of environmental damage caused by flying. UK airlines will be joining the European Union’s Emission Trading Scheme in 2012, a much fairer and more efficient way of addressing environmental concerns.

Luke Pollard ABTA Head of Public Affairs said: “The Notting Hill Carnival gives an authentic taste of the Caribbean. With taxes on flights to the Caribbean rising faster than inflation it means that experiencing it first hand is becoming more expensive. Flying should not be the preserve of the rich and nor should it become more expensive for Brits to visit friends and family in the Caribbean. Raising taxes on flying harms tourism and damages the economies of Caribbean islands at the very time that they need help the most. The government proposes doubling taxes on flying over the next five years. This will have a devastating effect on Caribbean tourism, the economies in the Caribbean and the ability of Britons to visit family and friends on the islands. It is time the government thought again about hiking aviation taxes.”

APD was introduced in 1994 and has seen several increases since. Rates are as follows:

For travel before 1 November 2009

Reduced Rates (economy seats)
£10 for European destinations*
£40 for all other destinations
Standard Rates (premium seats, including business class only airlines)
£20 for European destinations*
£80 for all other destinations

*EU Member States, Albania, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iceland, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro & Serbia, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.

For travel on or after 1 November 2009

Four geographical bands came into effect based on the distance from London to the capital city of the country concerned (with the exception of the Russian Federation which is split east and west of the Urals):

Band A
0–2,000 miles from London
Band B 2,001–4,000 miles from London
Band C 4,001–6,000 miles from London
Band D over 6,000 miles from London

The Economy and Premium rates- continue to apply. Rates of duty for 2009-10 and 2010-11 are as follows:

Band Economy Rate Premium Rate
  2009-10 2010-11 2009-10 2010-11
Band A
£22 £24
Band B £45 £60
Band C £50
Band D
£55 £85 £110 £170

Full details, including the tables specifying which countries and territories fall into each of the APD bands, can be found at www.hmrc.gov.uk/pbr2008/pbrn20.pdf