After Rishi Sunak stated that taxes would be increased on ultra-long-haul flights, families will have to pay more for big holidays and visits to distant relatives.

The Chancellor has increased Air Passenger Duty for flights exceeding 5,500 miles. This includes places like New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

The Treasury is likely to call the move a demonstration of Mr Sunak’s commitment to the green agenda in advance of next week’s Cop26 climate summit.

Families face paying more for their big holidays after Rishi Sunak said taxes would be raised on ultra-long-haul flights

Families will be paying more for big holidays after Rishi Sonak announced that taxes would rise on ultra-long haul flights

However, Mr Sunak also stated that flights between airports in England and Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Wales will be subject to a lower APD starting April 2023.

The changes mean that the cost of a BA business-class flight between Heathrow and Belfast will fall by £50.

This has angered the environmental group Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions, which tweeted: ‘Rishi Sunak should be investing in trains, not removing passenger duty from domestic flights. It flies against the will of [the] climate emergency.’

The Treasury announced earlier this year that it was considering increasing taxes on flights to far-flung destinations in order to make the ‘polluters pay’.

APD is currently subject to two tax bands: for flights up to 2,000 and for trips exceeding 2,000 miles.

People on long-haul flights already pay £80 APD. Domestic flights are charged the short-haul rate of £26 for return travel. Although airlines pay APD, most of the cost is passed on to travelers.

Mr Sunak stated: “Right now people pay more to fly home from abroad for return flights between the four United Kingdom countries than they do for flights within the country.”

“We had a domestic flight return-leg exemption but were forced to abolish it in 2001. Today I can tell you that from April 2023, flights between airports in England and Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Wales will be subjected to a new lower rate for Air Passenger Duty.

The changes mean that the cost of a BA business-class flight between Heathrow and Belfast will fall by £50

The changes mean that the cost of a BA business-class flight between Heathrow and Belfast will fall by £50

He said, “We’re also making changes in order to reduce carbon emissions from aircraft.” The majority of emissions are from international and not domestic aviation.

‘So I’m introducing, from April 2023, a new ultra long haul band in air passenger duty – covering flights of over 5,500 miles, with an economy rate of £91. The cost of flying farther will be higher than for passengers who fly less than 5%.

British citizens living in far-flung places are being punished by the Chancellor. London to Hong Kong, 5,976 miles; Auckland, NZ, 11,386, are some of the worst affected by the ultra-long haul tax band

Tim Aldersdale (chief executive of Airlines UK) responded: “Reducing domestic Air Passenger Duty would correct an anomaly which has existed for too long. It will greatly enhance connectivity to all the regions of Britain, supporting route viability, enabling businesses and sector across the economy to reach markets, attract inward investments, and support our tourism industry.

‘For many people and companies wanting to do business in the UK or see family and friends – particularly across Scotland and Northern Ireland – travelling by air remains the only viable option. This will make a real difference in their lives and bring all parts of the country closer. 

Paul Charles, CEO of The PC Agency, a travel agency, stated: ‘The British Chancellor is punishing British citizens living in far-flung locations with their family. The new ultra-long haul tax band is affecting the worst affected countries, including London to Hong Kong at 5,976 miles and Auckland, NZ at 11,386, respectively. The government should invest more in sustainable aviation fuel technology so that airlines can fly with zero-emission fuel as quickly as possible.

“The APD cut for flying in the UK is a welcome decision. It will connect parts of the UK that are not easily served by trains or who are otherwise inaccessible. It’s a boost for regional airports which can plan for further growth and renew investment programmes put on ice by the pandemic.’ 

Martin Chalk (Acting General Secretary, Pilot’s Union Balpa) slammed the Chancellor for his APD changes.

He stated, “While we appreciate the reduction in domestic APD, it makes no sense to create a new band for long-haul flying. It will be harder to capitalize on our recent free trade agreements with countries like Australia and New Zealand. This unfairly penalizes those who have to travel more than 5,500 miles to visit family. This flies in the face of the Government’s Global Britain agenda.

“With UK aviation just beginning to see the light at end of the tunnel,” this Budget does not provide any support for the once-world-leading aviation sector and does not recognize the contribution that we make to the UK PLC.