New air taxes come on stream

The cost of flying has risen after the introduction of the first of two new sets of air duty.

The rise in Air Passenger Duty (APD) on business and first class flights means that the tax on the shortest journeys has climbed by £1, while the charge on flights of over 6,000 miles have gone up by as much as £110.

Under the old system, tax charges were based on whether a flight was classified as short- or long-haul.

But the new tax regime applies charges according to four separate bands determined by the exact distance being flown.

Before the changes, Air Passenger Duty for economy class seats stood at £10 for short-haul flights of up to 2,000 miles and £40 for long-haul flights, while business and first class taxes were £20 and £80 for short- and long-haul journeys.

Now the duty on economy-class flights of less than 2,000 miles rises to £11, with the duty on business and first class seats set at £22.

On flights of between 2,001 and 4,000 miles, the economy class tax is £45, while business and first class travellers must pay £90.

On flights of between 4,001 and 6,000 miles, the duty charge is £50 in economy class and £100 in business and first class; journeys of more than 6,000 miles are to see a tax charge of £55 for economy and £110 for business and first class.

Another set of increases is planned for November 2010 when the duty on economy class short flights will rise by another £1 to £12. The duty chargeable on the longest business class flights could reach as high as £170.

The Treasury defended the rises on the grounds of both government income and responsibilities towards tackling climate change.

A spokesman 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.”