The Budget Revealed Major Changes to Passenger Rights – Here’s What It Means for Travelers
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced his fall budget earlier this week and introduced new air passenger fares (APD).
APD is going down for domestic flights and up for long-haul flights, and a brand new tax bracket has been created for ultra-long haul.
Here’s the low point…
The new fares mean the APD will go down for domestic flights and up for long-haul flights, and an entirely new tax bracket has been created for ultra-long-haul flights.
Okay, so passenger rights change – what’s that?
Air passenger tax is the tax that airlines charge for each passenger carried on flights from UK airports. Airlines usually pass these costs on to customers. So it is an ‘invisible’ tax in terms of advertised airfares.
So is it safe to assume it’s going up?
Not for all flights. For domestic travel, the tax is halved to £6.50 per flight. As this charge goes both ways, the cost of a return trip in the UK will drop by £13 – assuming airlines pass on the savings.
When will it come into effect?
From April 2023, so just a little longer.
What about flights abroad?
This depends on how far you travel. For flights of less than 2,000 miles, the fare remains the same. This will cover all EU countries, as well as Turkey, Tunisia and Morocco. A full list can be found at ‘Prices for Air Passenger Duty’ on gov.uk.
It is estimated that an easyJet flight from London to Glasgow will drop from £26 to £19.50 from April 2023
Does it go up for longer rides?
Yes. The APD for journeys over 2,000 miles but less than 5,500 miles is increased from £82 to £87.
What about flights over 5,500 miles?
The amount will be increased from € 82 to € 91.
Does this apply to all flight classes?
New. The above amounts are for economy fares. Business class APD on domestic flights will be halved from £26 per trip to £13.
Meanwhile, the APD for business class on flights of 2,000-5,500 miles will be increased from £180 to £191, and on flights over 5,500 miles from £180 to £200.
What counts as business class?
Any seat with a pitch (legroom) greater than 40 inches.
Do you have to pay APD on the return journey?
New. APD is only for flights from the UK. For flights in, passengers are subject to taxes levied by foreign countries.
The new APD fares mean an ultra-long flight from London to Bangkok with Thai Airways would rise from £401 to £410
What is the likely response from the airlines?
They will likely pass on changes. But most have expressed frustration at the hike in long-haul fares, which they say are already among the highest in the world. Luis Gallego, chief of IAG, which owns British Airways, said the changes are “harming Global Britain”.
However, industry association Airlines UK welcomes the drop in domestic APD, which it says will help people get over the road more easily.
Does the green lobby have anything to say?
Yes. It’s not happy. With the COP26 UN climate conference starting tomorrow, environmentalists think the announcement sends the wrong message. The Friends of Earth said: ‘[It] flies in light of the climate emergency. The Chancellor should make it cheaper for people to travel by train, not by planes that absorb CO2.’
Could anything else affect the rates?
A lot of. Airports are seeking permission from the Civil Aviation Authority to increase passenger fees to recoup losses caused by the pandemic. These will rise from £19.60 to £30 at Heathrow on January 1. Then there are concerns about rising oil prices.
Is money raised by APD spent on green causes?
New. It’s just another way for the chancellor to raise taxes.