A Fair Tax on Flying reaches 100,000 supporters

100,000 people have written to MPs to say that the UK’s Air Passenger Duty (APD) – the world’s highest air passenger tax – is now “too high” and are calling for a Government review of its impact on British families, jobs and growth. The emails have been sent as part of a campaign organised by A Fair Tax on Flying.

The campaign puts renewed pressure on the Treasury to find ways to reduce the impact of the tax on ordinary travellers and British businesses. Over the last seven years the tax has risen by up to 20 times more than the rate of inflation and last year, after a Treasury consultation into APD, the Government increased it by an additional 8% in 2012/13 despite calls for a freeze from campaigners. Virgin Atlantic calculated that, as a result of this ‘double inflation’ rise, APD will cost passengers an estimated £600m this summer – the equivalent to almost £10m each day.

At a time when the country is in a double-dip recession, growth forecasts have been revised down and travellers on other transport are paying higher and higher fares, the Government needs to be encouraging air travel to stimulate growth and help secure vital business contracts for Britain.

MPs responded last night to the huge surge in opposition to APD. Brian Donohoe MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Aviation said: “For 100,000 people to have written to MPs to make their voice heard is an astonishing show of opposition to the current levels of Air Passenger Duty (APD) and concern about the impact they are having on both ordinary families and on the economy. I trust the Chancellor listens to these recommendations, takes notice of public opinion and commissions an independent study to look at how APD is damaging the UK economy.”

The campaign has also won the support of several MPs. In the eight weeks since the campaign was launched 75 MPs have now signed a parliamentary motion (EDM 174 ) calling for more Treasury research into APD. Former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy MP is one of the MPs to have signed the motion which expresses concern about the “financial impact on ordinary families and their ability to fly” from the UK’s air passenger taxes and “notes the impact on businesses wishing to export to emerging markets”. The motion is also backed by a group of senior cross-party MPs including former Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell, Conservative 1922 Committee Chairman Graham Brady and Select Committee Chair Keith Vaz. Mr Kennedy said: “I hope that the government will listen to the thousands of people who have written to them on this this issue, and undertake a comprehensive impact assessment to establish the true economic consequences of the increase of Air Passenger Duty”.

APD can add up to £92 onto the price of an economy flight and typically the cost to most families is more than £115 each year adding to the burden of already squeezed household budgets. The letter to MPs – sent by over 100,000 people from the campaign site of A Fair Tax on Flying ) – says that “a family of four flying in Economy class from the UK to the United States, for example, pays £260 in APD tax, whereas in France the equivalent tax is only £38. That’s a shocking difference and one that I believe is hurting our economic recovery.” (Full text of email in notes to editors)

One air passenger, Alan Hunn from Crawley in West Sussex, who emailed his MP, said: “The ever-increasing taxes we pay on air passenger tickets is restricting the number of times I can travel to see my family. On the outbound flight from Heathrow, I am now paying just over £120 in taxes, and yet the return tax from Nairobi is only £9.50”

Campaign Statistics: 

All MPs have received emails about the campaign over the past eight weeks. The Prime Minister has received 200 emails from constituents. Cabinet members have, in total, received over 5,700, whilst the Shadow Cabinet has received over 3,200. Henry Smith, MP for Crawley has received the most emails (835), the Top 10 most emailed MPs are:

Mr Henry Smith MP,                    Crawley                                     835

Dr Kwasi Kwarteng MP,                Spelthorne                                 670

Mr Michael Gove MP,                  Surrey Heath                             606

Rt Hon Francis Maude MP,          Horsham                                   596

Mr Adam Afriyie MP,                   Windsor                                     592

Hon Nicholas Soames MP,       Mid Sussex                                550

Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP,   Runnymede and Weybridge    547

Mr Sam Gyimah MP,                   East Surrey                                  496

Rt Hon Theresa May MP,           Maidenhead                                487

Mr Dominic Grieve MP,                Beaconsfield                              483

The organisers of the campaign are calling on the Government to listen to the groundswell of public opinion and take action:

Mark Tanzer, CEO, ABTA – the Travel Association said: “MPs and Government Ministers have ignored the economic impacts of higher and higher APD for too long. With 100,000 people calling for a review into the effects this tax is having on our economy and the affordability of air travel, the Government cannot ignore APD any longer. If, as we believe, a review shows this tax damages growth, hurts jobs and investment and makes tourism harder, then the tax needs to be made fairer. The Government would gain more revenue and help more people back into work – that’s surely worth investigating with a proper review.”

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association, said: “From the huge public support for this campaign it is clear beyond any doubt that Air Passenger Duty (APD) is now one of the most hated stealth taxes in the UK. Whilst we have reached 100,000 we will not stop there. Our hope is that as people take advantage of the forthcoming Bank holiday weekend by travelling via the UK’s airports, they will continue to let their MP know what they think about the eye-wateringly high levels of APD. And we hope this will lead to the Chancellor calling off further APD increases planned for the next Budget, and instead announce a study of the impacts of APD on the UK economy.”

Simon Buck, Chief Executive of the British Air Transport Association, said: “The support for the campaign from the members of the public has been fantastic. Not only have 100,000 UK residents emailed their MPs, but due to demand we have set up a facility which allows non-UK residents to air their concerns. The Government should listen to its electorate and foreign visitors, who are clear – the UK’s air passenger taxes are now way too high. 

The campaign has also gained the backing of a number of celebrities including pop stars Cheryl Baker and Chesney Hawkes.

For further information contact: Olly Kendall: 07793 224749 /


Notes to Editors:

Further quotes from the public:

“The levels at which the Government has set this tax are completely unfair. APD is 2x higher when flying premium or first and yet everyone is travelling the same distance on the same plane. The tax paid on some long haul flights can often be more than the airfare, deterring people to fly is further hampering our economic recovery.” – Ms Sam Bridger, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire

“As an American expat, and mother of two young children, it has become increasingly difficult to visit close family back in the US. Since living in the UK, I have experienced a 200% increase in the level of APD, resulting in airline ticket taxes and fees costing more than the flight itself.” – Jen Farhead, Woking, Surrey.

“The rising levels of APD have put a strain on business relations with our partners in the Far East. Last year we made four trips to China, paying £1440 in APD. Due to the small margins on our consulting business, one consultant would have to work 7-14 days just to cover this cost.” – Philip de Jong, The Pertinax Partnership, East Grinstead, West Sussex

Text of email to MPs

As one of your constituents I would like to express my opposition to the unacceptable level of the UK’s Air Passenger Duty (APD). Successive governments have increased this tax, with another large increase of 8% taking effect just this April. I am supporting A Fair Tax on Flying campaign ( ) because I believe this tax is now far too high.

The UK now has the highest air passenger tax in the world. Only six European countries tax passengers when they fly overseas and UK rates are twice the level of the next most expensive tax (levied in Germany). A Fair Tax on Flying campaign has calculated that the Treasury collected more than twice as much in passenger taxes in 2011 than all other European countries that levy a tax combined. To put that into context, a family of four flying in Economy class from the UK to the United States, for example, pays £260 in APD tax, whereas in France the equivalent tax is only £38. That’s a shocking difference and one that I believe is hurting our economic recovery.

APD places the UK at a competitive disadvantage compared to our international competitors, making family holidays abroad more expensive, putting off inward investment and foreign tourists from visiting Britain and resulting in more expensive goods and services.

I am aware the Government needs to collect money in taxes to pay off the nation’s deficit, that APD makes an important contribution, the planned 2011/12 increases were frozen and from April 2013 business jet passengers will also have to pay APD. However, I believe that this tax makes economic recovery more difficult, not easier, by making our goods and services more expensive, by putting off tourists and by dis-incentivising inward investment.

I would therefore be grateful if you could respond to the following specific points, if you are able and willing:

·       Do you support the call for a proper review into the economic impacts of APD? In your reply please can you explicitly say whether you back a review or not?

·       Would you write to the Chancellor to request that the Treasury undertakes such research, to determine the impact of APD on UK holidaymakers, employment and economic growth and share any response with me?

·       If you are able to sign Parliamentary motions, please may I ask that you add your name to  Early Day Motion 174  ?

A Fair Tax on Flying Campaign

A Fair Tax on Flying campaign consists of over 30 leading travel organisations including airlines, airports, trade associations and destinations. More information can be found at  and .

Fair Tax on Flying campaign members: ABTA – the Travel Association, American Airlines, Airport Operators Association, Association of National Tourist Offices and Representatives, Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, British Airline Pilots’ Association, British Airways, BAA, The Board of Airline Representatives in the UK, British Air Transport Association, Blackpool Airport, BMI, Bristol Airport, Carlson Wagonlit, Definitive Caribbean, European Tour Operators Association, Expedia, Gatwick Airport, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Guild of Travel Management Companies, Jet2,, Leeds Bradford International Airport, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, London City Airport, London Luton Airport, Manchester Airports Group, Manston Kent Airport, Monarch, Multicom, Newcastle International Airport, Newmount Travel, Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association, The Caribbean Council, The Co-operative Travel, Thomas Cook, Tourism Alliance, TUI Travel PLC, UKinbound, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Holidays, Wales Air Forum, World Travel and Tourism Council.

More information about APD:

  • The overall APD tax take increased significantly on 1st April 2012, after the Government implemented an 8% APD increase.
  • Compared with seven years ago, APD rates have risen 160 per cent on short-haul, and up to 360 per cent on long-haul. Inflation over the period has been about 18 per cent.
  • The Office for Budget Responsibility says that APD revenue is projected to rise from £2.76bn in 2011/12 to £3.9bn in 2016/17. The Treasury’s 2011 Budget documents assume annual increases in APD.
  • Many European countries including Belgium, Holland and Denmark have abandoned their aviation taxes, due to the negative effects on their economies. In the longer-term, analysis shows that the UK economy will forego £750m of wealth and 18,000 jobs due to the recent rises in APD (November 2010), with around half the extra revenue raised offset by tax revenue losses in the wider economy (source Oxera, 2009)

Air Passenger Duty – additional information:

The current rates of tax for economy class are below, along with the equivalent tax rate in previous years


Bands 2006 2007 2009 2010 2012 % change 2006-2012
A (short-haul – up to 2000 miles) £5 £10 £11 £12 £13 160%
B (2001 -4000 miles) £20 £40 £45 £60 £65 225%


·       Only four other European countries levy some form of air passenger tax.

·       Denmark, Norway, Malta and Holland have all scrapped similar taxes as the revenue raised was outweighed by the damage caused to their economies.