Flights: Britons may benefit from cheap flight deal if Rishi Sunak axes air passenger duty

Plane ticket costs could be set to drop if Chancellor Rishi Sunak makes the decision to temporarily suspend air passenger tax for airlines. With much of the cost of this tax being transferred to customers, it could see passengers seeing a sizeable reduction in the cost of some tickets.

The speculation comes following pressure from a reported 24 Tories calling for air passenger duty to be suspended until the end of summer 2021.

Air passenger duty is charged to airlines, who cover costs by passing it on to passengers in ticket prices.

The tax can see the cost of short-haul tickets rising by around £13.

Long-haul tickets can see a cost increase of around £78 with the addition of air passenger duty.

If it is slashed, airlines may remove the amount from tickets in a bit to lure holidaymakers back to the skies.

Though nothing has been confirmed, the Treasury released an official statement on Sunday night suggesting that some amendments to the current tax regulations are likely.

“The Chancellor has announced that there will be a consultation on aviation tax reform,” it reads.

“As part of this, the Government will consider the case for changing the air passenger duty (APD) treatment of domestic flights, such as reintroducing a return leg exemption, and for increasing the number of international distance bands.”

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Waiving the duty could generate around £8 billion for the economy according to research consultancy York Aviation.

However, despite the statement, many MPs are calling for more detail and clarity on what is to come.

Chair of the Transport Select Committee, Huw Merriman MP, said: “The publication of an aviation recovery plan is welcome but it cannot come quick enough for a sector devastated by the impact of coronavirus.

“Our report expressed a desire to see more pace and detail on Government action to address the crisis.

“We await the Government’s aviation recovery plan and will look carefully at how the Government intends to deal with some of the specific points in our report.”

Mr Merriman also called for the Government to consider airport testing – a topic which has been a cause of contention in recent weeks following new cases of coronavirus being linked to arrivals from holiday destinations.

“The Government’s quarantine regime, coupled by a refusal to endorse airport testing to reduce the quarantine period, adds further barriers to travel,” continued the MP.

“Whilst the Government’s approach can be argued for on health grounds, it also further justifies the Committee’s original call for the Government to provide a sector deal to support our ailing aviation industry and its workforce.”

Travel industry bodies also welcomed the news of the potential changes to air passenger duty but said action must be taken sooner rather than later.

Mark Tanzer, chief executive of UK travel agent association ABTA, said: “While we welcome the government’s commitment to review air passenger duty in relation to domestic connectivity, we strongly urge the government to do this as part of a wider reform process, acting as the catalyst for constructive discussions between industry and government about a more comprehensive overhaul of the structure of APD.”

Andrew Flintham, managing director of TUI UK and Ireland added: “We really need the Government to step in and help us.”

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