A rise in airline passenger tax may make holidays unaffordable for many, says Virgin Atlantic. Air Passenger Duty (APD) airport departure tax will rise on Monday.

According to Virgin Atlantic, the increase in airport departure tax will add £450m to the cost of holidays in 2011. Other airline shave also condemned the tax hike.

Air Passenger Duty is automatically added to the price of an air ticket when it is booked and is paid by all passengers leaving Britain. Tax rates are determined by destination, with the world split into four bands.

The rise in APD will hit flights to the Caribbean particularly hard and from next week, those flying economy class will see their departure tax rise by 50%, going up to £75.

The tax would add £240 to the cost of a four-person holiday to the US – up 33% from 2009.

Virgin Atlantic’s chief commercial officer Julie Southern said: “Holidays are an essential part of our lives and are valued even more in these difficult economic times.

“With passengers now being asked to pay up to 10 times more tax since APD’s introduction, the annual family holiday will become unaffordable for many.”

Other airlines have also vented their anger at the tax increase.

easyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall said: “The Government should reform Air Passenger Duty to make it fairer for the public and to encourage greener behaviour by airlines.

“APD is already higher in the UK than anywhere else in Europe.”

British Airways boss Willie Walsh labelled the tax hike a “disgrace” and told Sky News: “We’re talking about paying almost £450m on an annual basis to the Exchequer through this tax. That’s £450m that British Airways does not have.”

Sam Fleming, economics editor of The Times summed up the departure tax hikes by saying: “The airline industry needs this like it needs a kick in the teeth.”


– Frankie Mullin