The UK government’s decision to increase air passenger duty (APD) on ultra-long-haul flights originating in the country has drawn strong criticism from airline association IATA.

“Masquerading this cash grab as a green tax the week before COP26 is the height of political hypocrisy that people are fed up with,” says IATA director general Willie Walsh of the 27 October announcement by UK chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Walsh cites the global airline industry’s recent commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, saying: “A tax hike does not help.”

He further suggests that “placing an even larger APD financial barrier between the UK and the world makes a mockery of the Global Britain ambition by dealing yet another blow to the UK’s competitiveness”.


Source: IATA

Walsh, speaking at this year’s IATA AGM in Boston

The taxation changes announced by Sunak mean that the APD on flights of more than 5,500 miles will rise from £82 ($113) in economy class today to £91 in April 2023, having risen to £84 in April 2022 under a previously announced hike.

Sunak also said, however, that the APD on domestic flights will be cut to £7.50 in April 2023, from the current £13.

Walsh says that the latter decision “tells us that the government understands the economic destruction that APD causes”, adding: “It should apply this wisdom to international connectivity and aim to boost UK competitiveness by eliminating APD completely.”

From April 2023, the UK’s new APD distance bands and charges will be set at £13 for flights of 0-2,000 miles, £87 for flights of 2,000-5,500 miles, and £91 for flights of 5,500 miles over, alongside the new domestic rate.