APD - Air Passenger Duty

Unite believes that the chancellor's annual increase in Air Passenger Duty (APD) is driving a wedge between rich and poor and between the UK and the rest of the world. Help us get this message to the Government that it is not acceptable to keep on raising tax in this way - see the form at the bottom of this page.

APD was introduced in 1994 with a £5 rate for the UK/EU and £10 elsewhere. Since then, it’s seen several increases and a doubling for passengers travelling other than in economy class (Reduced Rate = economy class; Standard Rate = all other seating classes).

From 1 April 2013 the chancellor introduced not only an increase in APD but also extended the scope to encompass business aircraft over 5.7 tonnes with the exception of helicopters and avgas fuelled aircraft. He also introduced a new higher rate for passengers flying on flights aboard aircraft of 20 tonnes and above with fewer than 19 seats.


Reduced rate

(lowest class of travel)

Standard rates

(other than the lowest class of travel)

Higher rate
(approximate distance in miles from the UK)
From 1 April 2011 From 1 April 2012 From 1 April 2013 From 1 April 2011 From 1 April 2012 From 1 April 2013 From 1 April 2013
Band A (0-2,000) £12 £13 £13 £24 £26 £26 £52
Band B (2,001-4,000) £60 £65 £67 £120 £130 £134 £268
Band C (4,001-6,000) £75 £81 £83 £150 £162 £166 £332
Band D (over 6,000) £85 £92 £94 £170 £184 £188 £376

Migration Risk

The government recognises the negative effect APD has in causing passengers to migrate over borders to alternative airport facilities, as happened in the Netherlands when they introduced a similar tax. The government announced on 27 September 2011, a cut in APD rates for passengers travelling on direct long-haul routes departing from airports in Northern Ireland to the lower short-haul rate, effective from 1 November 2011. They subsequently devolved APD rates to the NIA in respect of direct long-haul flights.

This has caused the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly to call for a similar devolution of this tax raising measure with a view to similarly, zero rating it.

In 2008 the Dutch government introduced an aviation tax which charged €11.25 for journeys under 2,500 km and €45 for journeys over this distance. The "eco tax" as it was dubbed was expected to raise around €300 million a year but once it was realised that passengers were instead migrating to German, French and Brussels airports, and a commissioned report concluded that it had cost the Dutch economy €1.3 billion in lost revenue, the tax was scrapped. Even 5 years later Amsterdam Schiphol has not fully recovered the lost business.

There is now evidence to suggest passengers bound for India and further afield are utilising the Harwich to the Hook of Holland ferry service to access Schiphol by car to avoid APD. This is understandable when you realise that the APD for a group of six traveling premium economy to India is currently £996 and it costs just £335 for the return ferry journey*.

Recent debates and reform (PDF, 18 pages, 390.4 KB)

For more information on the campaign visit

Unite is working with the Fair Tax on Flying campaign as we believe that the ever increasing cost of aviation taxation is blocking the creation of up to 60,000 jobs by 2020 and is an ineffective means to change customer behaviour in choosing alternatives to aviation. Instead APD is placing a barrier to trade, putting jobs at risk and punishing the average family who either want to stay in contact with friends and family or enjoy their holidays.

Please use the below box below to find out who your MP is and ask them to sign up to Early Day Motion 244 which asks the Chancellor to conduct a review of APD and reduce this level of tax rather than continuing to increase it faster than average wages.

Once you have put your postcode in the box you will be given the opportunity to e-mail your MP using the suggested wording, which you are free to personalise if you wish (for example you may wish to add "Dear XX XX MP" at the start and "Yours sincerely..." and your name at the end).

Help us get this message to the Government that it is not acceptable to keep on raising tax in this way.


MP look up