Belfast to Edinburgh flights made up of almost half APD

The easyJet service between Belfast and Edinburgh is among the most heavily taxed out of all domestic routes, with 52 per cent of the average £54 fare going towards APD.
Gareth McKeown and PA

AIR Passenger Duty (APD) accounts for over half of a regular fare between Belfast International and Edinburgh, according to new research.

Analysis carried by the A Fair Tax On Flying Campaign, shows that the easyJet service from Belfast to the Scottish capital is among the most heavily taxed out of all domestic routes, with 52 per cent (£26) of the average £50 fare going towards APD.

Each passenger is charged APD on flights departing from UK airports, meaning they pay twice for domestic return trips. The rate for a short haul economy class ticket is £13 per leg, with the money received going to the Treasury.

Business groups in Northern Ireland have long petitioned for the abolition for APD and at a Westminster reception held earlier this month, Retail NI, Hospitality Ulster and Manufacturing NI jointly re-iterated calls for its removal in their recently published policy document, ‘New Deal For Northern Ireland'.

“For too long businesses have been thwarted by outdated legislation, increasing rates, soaring energy prices and high employment policy costs. It's time the government created an enabling taxation and regulatory environment for businesses in order to help them grow.

"Crucially, we need to see modernisation of our licensing laws, a reduction of Tourism VAT, abolition of APD and the introduction of Tourism Enterprise Zones where specific incentives are developed with the aim of doubling the GDP of tourism in Northern Ireland," a joint statement said.

Earlier this year an independent report claimed that 40,000 new jobs could be created in the north over the next 30 years if APD was removed from flights serving the region, delivering an increase in Gross Value Added of £2.7bn. The report formed the core of a detailed submission on APD made to the Government by Belfast International Airport in May.

In its figures A Fair Tax on Flying Campaign calculated APD as a proportion of 18 air fares for domestic return flights booked on September 11 for travel on October 16 and 17.

The highest figure was 58 per cent for London Stansted easyJet flights to Glasgow and Edinburgh, which both cost £45.

This was followed by Flybe flights from Southampton to Manchester (54 per cent of £48), the Belfast to Edinburgh service and Flybe flights from Cardiff to Edinburgh (46 per cent of £56).

Henk van Klaveren, spokesman for the campaign, said the "exorbitant tax" is hurting the UK economy.

"It's a tax on trade and a tax on holidays. And this analysis shows that it is an unfair burden to business and leisure travellers making return flights within the UK.

"This damages connectivity, regional economies and the overall country. It is a definite brake on growing the benefits of tourism and business travel across the country.

"We are urging the Chancellor to decisively cut APD in the Budget by at least 50 per cent across all bands of travel. This will help move the UK towards a more level playing field with some of our neighbouring economies."

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