South West TPA supporters gathered in Bristol Airport calling for a cut in Air Passenger Duty (APD) on Wednesday. Taxes on flights departing from the UK are the highest in the world. Different rates apply according to the distance travelled. Britain’s exceptionally high taxes on flights in though make holidays much more expensive, as well as making it harder for Britain to compete as a destination for tourists and business investment.
Based in the main check-in area of the terminal, we handed out leaflets to arriving and departing passengers explaining the tax. Our campaign mascot Hector the tax inspector was suitably attired in his holiday kit and attracted a lot of attention.
‘It’s ridiculous,’ said one passenger, ‘they’re screwing us every way they can.’ One young couple was flying first to Amsterdam and then onto Australia to avoid the most expensive duty. ‘That way we don’t pay the full tax,’ they said. A short standard rate flight to Amsterdam adds £26 each to their bill, but going all the way to Australia would add £188 each—making a total of almost £400! It’s not surprising they’d rather endure the inconvenience and tedium of two flights rather than one to save almost £350. But it's not just an inconvenience though, this damages businesses and tourism in the UK.
When you add VAT and Insurance Premium Tax, the tax burden on going abroad and enjoying yourself is getting higher and higher. In 2012, the estimated total tax bill for holidays abroad was over £2 billion. That is £56 for each of the holidays abroad taken. A family of six travelling to Spain will have faced an average tax bill of £187 on their flights and holiday purchases in the UK. A family of four travelling to Florida will have faced an average tax bill of £350 on their flights and holiday purchases in the UK, an increase of £150 since 2008.
You can read more about the cost of holiday taxes here.