The UK’s APD Increase Continues to Convince People Not to Visit

Just as California likes to bump up the car tax to plug its budget holes, the UK has a soft spot for taxing the heck out of air travel. The Air Passenger Duty (APD) has only been at its current rate for a couple years, but apparently it’s time to increase it again. Just what we need is more taxation on air travel to help further destroy the already declining demand for air travel.

In coach, the tax is currently between £10 and £40 depending upon distance traveled. This will now go up to £11 to £55 in November 2009 and then spike again in November 2010 to £12 to £85. Other classes of service will pay double. Originally, the UK had discussed the idea of making the tax on a per plane basis instead of per passenger to encourage the use of larger planes, but that was ditched in favor of a simple and painful increase.

Just think about the magnitude of this increase. In 2010 it will cost you £85 for a flight over 6,000 miles. As of today, that’s about $130 for this one measly tax. Fortunately, The Global Traveller found that the distance for the tax will be based on the distance from London to the capital of each country. If this is true, then it’s good news for much of the US. The distance from London to Washington is around 3,650 miles so that means that travelers between the UK and US would pay £45 in coach and £90 up front next November. That would go up to £60 in coach and £120 up front the following year. If it was based on actual flying distance, anything west of Chicago and south of Charlotte would be in a higher bracket.

You may remember that the UK likes to position this as an environmental tax to help fight air pollution. Well, I’m sure it’ll thrill you to know that the UK puts none of these revenues to support environmental projects, and even if they did, the amount of revenue collected is far more than the “cost” of carbon. This appears to be the UK’s way to juice some extra revenue without considering the impact on air travel itself.

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