Passengers flying from UK airports are paying as much as five times more in Air Passenger Duty than from other countries in Europe that levy an equivalent tax.

The claim comes today (Thursday) in research from the A Fair Tax on Flying campaign which shows that only four other European countries levy a similar tax to APD.

And the UK charges more than any of them by between three and 30 times more, depending on the distance of the flight.

The study shows that people flying from a UK airport pay, on average, more than five times more in passenger departure taxes than in those European countries that levy an equivalent tax.

This comprises:

  • For short-haul flights to destinations primarily within Europe, UK passengers pay three times more in air departure taxes than other European countries that levy a tax.
  • For mid-haul flights to destinations such as Israel and Dubai, UK passengers pay almost seven times more in air departure taxes than other European countries that levy a tax, and for long-haul it is more than five times more.
  • UK passengers pay on average almost three and a half times more in air taxes than passengers in Germany.
  • The UK pays on average almost 30 times more than the lowest equivalent tax – that of France.

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “The government’s recent reduction in the tax for long-haul routes was a step in the right direction, but there is still a huge disparity in the levels of air tax UK passengers are paying compared with our European neighbours.

“It is time for the government to undertake a macro-economic review of the tax – this way they can assess for themselves exactly how damaging APD is for UK competitiveness and for British consumers.”

British Air Transport Association chief executive Simon Buck added: “Whichever way you look at it UK passengers are losing out thanks to the UK’s APD.

“This analysis shows that whether you fly long, medium or short-haul, so long as you are departing a UK airport you will be saddled with departure taxes that are at least three times those of our nearby European rivals.

“The government has made some welcome first steps to reforming APD, but we hope that they recognise that with such a huge disparity between us and the rest of Europe that more still needs to be done.”

Dale Keller, chief executive of the Board of Airline Representatives UK, said: “Our airline members have extended their willingness to work with the Treasury on achieving APD reform by proposing seven key asks that address the most challenging and unfair aspects of the tax.

“It is of huge concern to airlines that the UK is isolating itself following the Republic of Ireland’s decision to scrap it’s Air Travel Tax earlier this year, leaving only four other countries in Europe with a comparable tax, albeit at much lower rates.”

Airport Operators Association chief executive Darren Caplan said: “These figures illustrate starkly the extent to which passengers from UK airports are paying a premium compared with people flying from other airports across Europe.

“It’s impossible not to conclude that APD makes the UK less competitive. This is adversely impacting our connectivity, making it harder for businesses to access overseas markets, and damaging our all-important tourism sector.”

For the purposes of assessing the different passenger departure taxes across Europe, the campaign created three different banding categories (short, mid and long-haul flights) to usefully compare the level of taxes levied by each country.