Page last updated at 04:50 GMT, Sunday, 1 November 2009

Air tax increase comes into force

Plane at Heathrow
A second rise in Air Passenger Duty comes into force next year

The first of two rises in UK airport departure tax has come into effect, adding up to £30 to the cost of flying.

The price of the shortest flights rises by £1, with Air Passenger Duty on business and first class journeys over 6,000 miles up from £80 to £110.

The costs used to be based on either short or long haul flights but is now divided into four distance bands.

The government has cited environmental reasons for the rise but airlines are worried about business in a recession.

Further rises will come into force in November next year.

A spokesman for the Treasury said: "The government maintains that air travel should pay its fair share in tax.

"APD is an important contributor to the public finances, while helping the government achieve its environmental goals."

'Completely unjustified'

The rise in Air Passenger Duty will particularly hit long-haul passengers travelling in business and first-class.

The duty on economy class seats was previously £10 for short haul flights of up to 2,000 miles and £40 for long haul. Business and first class were priced at £20 and £80 respectively.

The cost of APD for flights of less than 2,000 miles in economy class will now be £11, with duty on premium tickets priced at £22.

For journeys of between 2,001 and 4,000 miles the price will be £45 in economy class and £90 for other seats.

For journeys of between 4,001 and 6,000 miles, the price is £50 in economy and £100 in premium classes. And flights of more than 6,000 miles, will cost £55 and £110 respectively.

From November 2010, economy class passengers on the shortest flights will be charged £12. Premium class tickets on the longest flights, will pay as much as £170 in APD.

Travel firm organisation Abta said its members would be urged to "raise customers' awareness of this socially-useless tax".

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: "Even the government has stopped pretending is solely a 'green' tax."

BA's customer services director Silla Maizey said: "These huge tax hikes are very bad news for holidaymakers and completely unjustified."

Virgin Atlantic chief executive Steve Ridgway said: "These proposed increases will not only hurt the aviation industry but also harm the British economy and those of many developing countries, like the Caribbean, which heavily rely on the tourism trade."

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