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Aviation: Taxation

Question for Treasury

UIN 157540, tabled on 21 April 2022

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether his Department has made an assessment of the (a) potential merits and (b) potential environmental and financial impact of implementing a frequent flyer levy.

Answered on

26 April 2022

Air Passenger Duty (APD) is the UK’s principal tax on the aviation sector. The tax raised £3.6 billion in 2019-20 and its primary objective is to ensure that airlines make a fair contribution to the public finances. Last year, the Government consulted on aviation tax reform and as part of this sought views on whether a frequent flyer levy could replace APD as the principal tax on the aviation sector. In the responses received to the consultation, the Government received a wide range of views on a frequent flyer levy, which it considered carefully.

Following the consultation, the Government published a response which outlined that it was minded to retain APD as the principal tax on the aviation sector, noting in particular continuing concerns around the possible administrative complexity of a frequent flyer levy and around data processing, handling and privacy.

However, in its response to the consultation, the Government announced plans to introduce two new APD distance bands for both domestic and ultra-long-haul flights. The ultra-long haul band will see an additional £4 charged on top of the revised long-haul rate for flights greater than 5,500 miles - ensuring those who fly furthest, and have the greatest impact on emissions, incur the greatest duty. These changes are due to take effect from April 2023, allowing time for the industry to plan for the changes.

More broadly, the Government has put in place a wide range of measures to support the decarbonisation of the aviation industry, including investment of £180 million to support the commercialisation of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) plants in the UK and the launch of the Jet Zero Council which is a partnership between industry, government and academia to drive the delivery of new technologies and find innovative ways to cut aviation emissions.

Furthermore, the UK’s new Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) covers participants from the aviation, power and industrial sectors. It sets a total annual cap on greenhouse gases emitted by these sectors. It covers domestic flights within the UK and flights from the UK to the EEA.

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