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Costlier flights for many Brits

Vapour trails left by a plane02/04/13

By Daniel Machin

Britons will now have to shell out more money on flights due to higher rates of the Air Passenger Duty (APD) airport departure tax.

The increase, which came into force on this week, will affect millions of people as they look to get away in the coming months.

It means that a family of four flying in economy class to Florida will now be paying a total of £268 in APD.

Chancellor George Osborne made the decision to press ahead with the rise despite widespread opposition from airlines, airports and holiday companies.

Campaigners pointed to the fact that many European countries, including Belgium, Holland and Denmark, have abandoned their aviation taxes.

"The Government has hit hard-working families where it hurts with many families having to pay hundreds of pounds in air passenger taxes on their annual getaway," said Simon Buck, chief executive of the British Air Transport Association.

"It's not good enough to continue to increase APD when the clear economic evidence shows that it both damages the UK economy and adds hundreds of pounds onto the annual tax bill of many families who fly overseas every year."

The tax, which has soared since it was first introduced in 1994, brings in large amounts of revenue.

Although the cost per passenger in economy class on flights of less than 2,000 miles in length remains unchanged at £13, APD on flights of between 2,001 and 4,000 miles, which includes North American and Middle East trips, has risen from £65 to £67 for economy passengers.

Those travelling in economy on flights of 4,001 to 6,000 miles will now pay £83 instead of £81, while economy-class travellers going on flights of more than 6,000 miles will fork out £94 as opposed to £92.

Passengers flying in non-economy seats will also face increases, with their rates being exactly double what economy travellers have to pay.

Meanwhile, the non-economy rate on flights of up to 2,000 miles remains unchanged at £26.

Aviation and travel umbrella body A Fair Tax on Flying has spearheaded opposition to APD, taking particular issue with the fact that the different tax bands are based on distances to capital cities.

For instance, the whole of the USA, with its capital in Washington DC on the east coast, is in Band B (2,001 to 4,000 miles).

This means that although destinations such as Los Angeles and San Francisco are more than 4,000 miles away, passengers pay less APD to fly to the west coast of the USA than to nearer Caribbean hotspots such as Barbados, Antigua and St Lucia which are all in Band C (4,001 to 6,000 miles).

Despite vociferous objection from the Caribbean tourist board chiefs to this seeming anomaly, the bands remain unchanged.

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