Autumn budget 2021: UK raises air passenger duty for 'ultra long-haul' flights

'Those who fly furthest will pay most' tax to reduce carbon emissions, says Chancellor Rishi Sunak

UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced an increase on air passenger duty on "ultra-long-haul flights" from Britain.

He made the announcement in Parliament as he delivered his autumn budget for 2021.

The chancellor said the increase in duty would apply to flights of more than 8,850 kilometres (5,500 miles), meaning that journeys to the UAE and the rest of the Gulf will be unaffected.

However, those going on flights to Australia and New Zealand will now pay more for their air fares in the future.

The chancellor said the move would help reduce carbon emissions and those who "fly furthest will pay the most". The new measures come into effect on April 2023, but Mr Sunak said only 5 per cent of passengers will end up paying more.

Currently, air passenger duty on flights of more than 2,000 miles is £82 for economy class and £180 for premium economy, business and first class.

Under the new rules, the rate on economy will jump to £91 with the other classes following suit.

Mr Sunak outlined plans to introduce a lower rate of air passenger duty for domestic flights within the UK.

He said the majority of carbon emissions come from international flights rather than domestic journeys.

"Right now, people pay more for return flights within and between the four nations of the United Kingdom than they do when flying home from abroad," he told politicians.

“We used to have a return-leg exemption for domestic flights but were required to remove it in 2001. But today, I can announce that flights between airports in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will from April 2023 be subject to a new lower rate of air passenger duty.”

The decision is likely to be controversial, particularly as the UK is set to host the Cop26 climate change summit in Glasgow next week, when nations will be asked to outline concrete steps to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

Ian Blackford, the Scottish National Party's leader a the UK Parliament, said the planned cut to domestic air passenger duty was "a disgrace” and called on Rishi Sunak to remove it.

"This is a disgrace and shows, quite frankly, that this is not a government that understands the climate challenge that we all face and the chancellor should withdraw and remove that proposal,” he told the House of Commons.

Updated: October 27th 2021, 2:45 PM
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