UK tax on flying cost passengers over £3.1 billion last year

January 27th, 2016

Airlines call for Air Passenger Duty to be abolished after new official figures reveal that the UK’s tax on flying raked in over £3.1 billion in 2015


The British Air Transport Association (BATA) has responded to the publication of official statistics showing the amount of money raised by Air Passenger Duty – the UK’s tax on flying – last year.

Speaking ahead of this evening’s gathering of the UK airline industry at the British Air Transport Association Annual Dinner, Nathan Stower, Chief Executive of BATA said:

 “New official figures from HMRC clearly show much how Air Passenger Duty has increased since it was first introduced. This UK tax on flying cost the public over £3.1 billion in 2015 – up from £331 million in 1995 and £892 million in 2005.That is a staggering increase of 250% in the last 10 years and over 840% since the first full year of its operation. Even allowing for growth in passenger numbers over the same period, this is still a huge burden on UK businesses, the travelling public, and UK aviation.”

 The figures, published by HMRC and the Office for National Statistics in the official quarterly APD Bulletin yesterday (26 January), are:


Year Number of APD Liable Passengers APD Receipts (£ bn)
1995 51,750,000 0.331
2005 102,159,000 0.892
2014 105,910,000 3.138
2015* 100,496,000 (figures only reported so far for 11 months to November)* 3.12** (for 12 months to December)

 Nathan continued:

“Despite some recent welcome reforms over the last year or two, such as the return to a two band structure and the abolition of APD for children, the UK flight tax is still the highest in Europe and one of the highest in the world.

 “There is a compelling economic and political case for abolition of APD during this Parliament to improve the UK’s international competitiveness, boost trade, increase productivity, encourage inbound tourism and support the travelling public.”



27 January 2016


Notes to Editors

  • BATA is the trade body for UK-registered airlines, with members representing all sectors of the industry. In 2014, BATA members employed 75,000 people, operated four-fifths of the UK commercial aircraft fleet and were responsible for some 96% of UK airline output, carrying 138 million passengers and 1 million tonnes of cargo.
  • The eleven BATA member airlines are: British Airways, DHL, easyJet, Flybe,, Monarch, RVL Group, Thomas Cook, Thomson Airways, Titan Airways and Virgin Atlantic.
  • The 2016 BATA Annual Dinner, taking place on Wednesday 27 January, is kindly supported by Boeing UK & Ireland. Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP, the Secretary of State for Transport, will be the guest speaker at the dinner.
  • The latest APD quarterly bulletin, with monthly figures for 2015 and annual totals for previous years is at:

HMRC/National Statistics, APD Quarterly Bulletin – December 2015, published January 26 2016.

*Full annual totals for APD liable passengers and receipts expected to be slightly down on 2014 totals due to:

 a) Exemption of children aged between 2 and 12 from economy rates of APD with effect from 1 May 2015. This measure was estimated by HM Treasury, when announced in the Autumn Statement 2014, to cost £40m in 2015-16, rising to £80m in 2016-17. The exemption increases to include children under 16 from 1 March 2016.

HM Treasury, Autumn Statement, page 57, paragraph 1.223, Air Passenger Duty

HM Treasury, Autumn Statement, page 64, table 2.1, Autumn Statement Policy Decisions

b) Simplification of APD from a 4 band to a 2 band system with the abolition of bands C and D from 1 April 2015. This change was announced by the Chancellor in the 2014 Budget Statement on 19 March 2014 and was then estimated by HM Treasury to cost £215m in 2015-16, rising to £225 in 2016-17. Band A remained unchanged, covering passengers on flights originating in the UK with a final destination 2000 miles or less from London. The new band B covers passengers with a final destination of more than 2000 miles from London. The new band B was charged at the previously planned band B rate in 2015-16 (£71 for reduced or economy rate passengers and £142 for standard rate passengers).

HM Treasury, Budget 2014, pages 37 and 38, paragraph 1.128, Exports

HM Treasury, Budget 2014, page 57, table 2.1, Budget 2014 Policy Decisions

The combined cost of these two changes to APD, announced in 2014 and implemented in 2015, has been estimated by HM Treasury to total £225m in 2015-16.

**Note that the 2015 APD receipts total is provisional and has been calculated from the January to December 2015 reported monthly totals in the latest Quarterly APD Bulletin.