Aviation chiefs warned that an ‘astonishing’ and a ‘fundamentally flawed” tax increase on ultra-long-haul flights will ‘penalise a global Britain and be a further blow for airlines recovering from the effects of Covid. 

Airline bosses have reacted with fury over the Government’s plan to slap a £91 air passenger duty (APD) on flights to far flung destinations such as Australia, east Asia and large parts of South America from 2023.

Taxes on domestic flights will be cut by 50%. This will be a significant boost to companies that are focusing on short haul travel.

Aviation bosses claim the new ultra-long haul fee will unfairly punish carriers that have experienced major disruption and a significant drop in passenger numbers since March 2013 due to Covid. 

Today, however, the Government’s chief scientific advisor stated that Britons should reduce the number of flights they take.

Sir Patrick Vallance suggested that Britons should choose active travel, such as walking and cycling, over domestic flights and should use trains instead. 

It comes as Rishi sunak, yesterday’s autumn budget speaker, announces plans for an ultra-long haul cost for passengers traveling to long-distance destinations.

An 'astounding' tax increase on ultra-long haul flights will 'penalise' a global Britain and be a further blow to airlines recovering from the impact of Covid, aviation chiefs have warned. Library image of a flight landing at Heathrow airport

Aviation chiefs warn that an ‘astonishing’ tax hike on ultra-long haul flights would ‘penalise a global Britain and be another blow to airlines recovering from the effects of Covid. Library image of a Heathrow flight landing.

Willie Walsh, head of body trade body Iata, said it was 'astounding that the Chancellor thinks now is the time to raise the cost of flying'.

Sir Patrick Vallance said that Britons should look to use more active travel - such as walking and cycling - and rather than domestic flights should use trains instead.

Willie Walsh of Iata, the head of body trade, said that it was astonishing that the Chancellor feels now is the best time to raise the cost for flying. Sir Patrick Vallance stated that Britons should be more active, such as walking or cycling, and should instead use trains rather than domestic flights.

The new charge will be implemented starting in April 2023. It is an additional level to the current long-distance charge. 

Current long haul destinations, such as the US, Dubai and Brazil, will remain in the current long haul area of air passenger duty – which will rise from £82 to £87.

But even longer haul destinations will now be moved into a new area, the ultra-long haul zone, which will be charged at £91.

Luis Gallego (head of IAG British Airways) stated that an increase in APD on long-haul flights “will penalise Global Britain”.  

He also stated that the move would ‘limit the airlines ability to invest in green technology’.

Willie Walsh was Mr Gallego’s predecessor, and is now head of body Iata. He told the Telegraph that the Chancellor believes now is a good time to raise the cost for flying. 

“Masquerading this cash grab to be a green tax the week prior to Cop26 is the height political hypocrisy that people have had enough of.” 

Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said: “The announcement of an ultra-long haul band to pay Air Passenger Duty (APD), is fundamentally flawed. It will not reward increased efficiency or lower carbon emissions. 

“Passengers will pay the exact same APD rate whether they fly with modern, fuel-efficient airlines like Virgin Atlantic or with older, less efficient aircraft.

“Increasing long-haul taxes will make the UK less competitive and hinder, rather than support, investment in sustainable aviation fuels that are essential for decarbonising long-haul aviation.

“With economic recovery at stake the UK Government has missed an opportunity to lower long-haul travel costs for UK businesses and consumers by reducing the APD at a critical time when airlines are focusing on recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The decision to increase the tax on long haul flights was announced alongside a cut to domestic flight tax, which will drop from £12 to £6.50.

According to estimates by OBR, the move will result in an additional 400,000 domestic flights per year.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientist adviser, stated today that Britons should be flying less to help achieve the global goal of keeping climate change below 1.5C. 

Luis Gallego, boss of British Airways owner IAG, said that increasing APD on long-haul flights 'will penalise Global Britain'

Luis Gallego (head of IAG British Airways) stated that an increase in APD on long-haul flights “will penalise Global Britain”.

Rishi Sunak, in yesterday's autumn budget, announced plans for a new ultra-long haul charge for airline passengers travelling to long-distance destinations

Yesterday’s autumn budget by Rishi Sunak included plans for an ultra-long haul cost for passengers who fly to long-distance destinations.

Speaking from the Polar research ship Sir David Attenborough, which is moored today at Greenwich. He stated that many people don’t know what to do. One of the messages that needs out is that there are small things we can do that add up to a lot of impact.

“I ride to work every day by bicycle, for example. I think active transportation, work out how much meat you eat, maybe reduce that a little, I’ve done that, and I’m thinking about other forms of transport and reducing the number flights we take. 

“Not abolishing these things, but actually just reducing them makes a difference.”

When asked about the Government’s plans to reduce flight duty he replied that long-term technological solutions such as sustainable aviation fuels and short-haul electronic flights would require investment.

When asked in the short term if he wants to see more people take domestic flights, he answered: “No, no. I think we should all try to reduce that. When they are combined across millions of people, trains and active transport can make a big difference.