In 1994 the UK government introduced the Air Passenger Duty tax scheme in an effort to combat environmental issues associated with air travel. The tax primarily boosts revenues in making vital contributions to public finances with the added benefit of considering the ever-increasing rate of carbon emission as air travel become more affordable, hence frequent. The tax has layers of complexity to it, but at its center focuses on taxing aircraft departing UK or Isle of Man air fields depending on its size, it’s voyage distance and the duration it spends on UK soil.
The tax has three rates of charge being reduced rate, standard rate and higher rate. Reduced rate applies to the cheapest option of travel; typically, economy class on large airline carriers. The criteria of assessment to meet reduced rate is such that seat pitches of each individual seat be less than 40 inches. The seat pitch is the distance between a single point on one seat to the same point on the seat in front. On a standard airline carrier this distance is normally 29 to 32 inches. Moving up the rates we come to the standard rate of charge. This charge applies to any other type of aircraft which exceeds the reduced rate criteria of seat pitc
hes being greater than 40 inches. The last rate, higher rate, applies to aircraft with weight exceeding 20 tonnes or for aircrafts equipped to carry less than 19 passengers; this is normally your military airplanes or private jet charge.
Apart from the type of aircraft, the tax also takes into consideration the voyage distance, charging a much-inflated large haul trip charge compared to a short haul trip charge. The implementation of such a criterion, was designed to encourage short trip when compared to long trips; reducing emission and making European destinations more attractive.
While there has been plenty controversy over the APD recently, due to price spikes, as it stands the tax is still being applied throughout the most part of the UK, bar Scotland and Northern Ireland. The first of the price rises became clear in 2007, when tax for each category doubled. While the increase came as a surprise, it was only the beginning to a decade of steady increases in the tax. If we take for example a flight from England to Miami, we can see first-hand the added charge to a flight. A single flight from London to Miami is 4,426 miles. Applying to original rates to the flight we can see that the tax would come out to be £20; long trip via economy class. Fast forward to 2015 the exact same trip would equate to £85; as a result of price rises over the years. And even when we take inflation into consideration which was 59.93% from 1994 to 2015 (worst case scenario), the charge comes out to be £50.94, more than double the original cost in 1994 pounds. For US readers that results in $40 USD back in 1994. Without delving too much into the reasoning of such increase, the one prominent topic that has risen from the tax recently is the push to demolish the tax. Many parts of the UK have push towards a reduced tax, while some such as Northern Ireland have pushed for a complete removal of it.