Airlines slam departure tax hike as prices go up

THE cost of flying increased yesterday, as the first of two rises in UK airport departure tax was introduced.<br /><br />Business and first class travellers have been hit hardest with the air passenger duty, with the tax on premium journeys over 6,000 miles goeing up to &pound;110 from &pound;80.<br /><br />Duty on short flights has gone up by &pound;1.<br /><br />Costs used to be determined by whether flights were long or short haul, but the new departure tax is now split into four bands, based on distance travelled.<br /><br />A further hike will be introduced in November next year.<br /><br />The Treasury gave environmental reasons for the rise saying that &ldquo;air travel should pay its fair share in tax&rdquo;, but airlines have expressed concern as they struggle to win customers in the downturn. <br /><br />Virgin Atlantic&rsquo;s chief executive Steve Ridgway said the tax is damaging to the world economy and would affect areas like the caribbean.