The government today confirmed that it was launching a consultation on cutting air passenger duty (APD) on domestic flights in a bid to improve travel links within the UK.
The review is part of a broader suite of recommendations identified in former TfL boss Sir Peter Hendy’s report on the connectivity of the UK, which is also published today.
As part of the consultation, ministers will consider reintroducing a return leg exemption or creation of a new lower domestic rate.
At the moment, travellers pay a fee of £13 per domestic flight. In total the levy raised £3.7bn in 2019.
The decision to review APD was first announced at last year’s Budget after regional carrier Flybe went bust, but has been delayed while Hendy carried out his report.
It will come as a relief to the country’s airlines, which have been calling for the tax to be waived amid the devastation of the pandemic.
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, a trade body, said: “This is really positive news that will help support regional connectivity, level up the UK, and provide a welcome measure of relief to domestic carriers facing an existential threat from the impacts of Covid.
“It will help to sustain current domestic connections – including into Heathrow, our national hub, as well as all the regions of the UK – which is essential to achieving economic growth and supporting the Government’s Global Britain agenda.
“We look forward to working further with the Hendy Review and Ministers and would urge as much speed as possible in the consultation process.”
It also met with the approval of Airport Operators’ Association boss Karen Dee, who said it offered the sector a “glimmer of light”.
“The recognition of the detrimental impact of Air Passenger Duty and a commitment to review domestic APD to reduce its impact is very welcome”, she said.
“Domestic aviation suffered a double-hit in the last year, with the collapse of Flybe and the Covid-19 pandemic, and this offers a glimmer of hope for the future.”
Not everyone, however, welcomed the move. Paul Tuohy, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: “This is enormously disappointing, especially coming a week after a rail fare rise and fuel duty freeze, and makes a mockery of our climate commitments.
“The government’s own green agenda is veering badly off course and without a rethink it threatens to undermine all its previous efforts to tackle carbon emissions.”