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Q&A: What is Air Passenger Duty (APD)?

APD is la UK tax levied on flyers, on flights that start in the UK. We explain why.

by Sharron Livingston
two airplanes

Q&A: What is Air Passenger Duty (APD)?

Air passenger duty, or APD, is a British tax that travellers on flights departing from the UK must pay. The amount of the levy depends on the distance and the class of travel.

The tax is supposed to be a green measure put into place by the UK government to encourage travellers to find alternative methods of travel other than flying, which produces more carbon immersion than other modes of transport. The idea is to reduce demand for flights, thereby decreasing carbon emissions from the air industry.

Currently, there are two bands and a third scheduled for 2023.

  • A: less than 2,000 miles from the UK and charged according to the class of travel, i.e. economy £13, up to £78 for first class. 
  • B: over 2,000 miles.
  • C: In April 2023, there will be a third band for flights over 5,000 miles which starts at £91 in economy class.

At present all flights over 2,000 miles (Band B) are charged at the same rate of APD: £82 in economy class, £180 for premium economy, business and first class. These are set to increase to £84 and £185 respectively from April 2022.

There has been much discontent around this tax as it is unfair to domestic flights.  APD is charged on flights departing from the UK and applies to each leg of a domestic return flight. So, a return flight from Cardiff to Manchester attracts £26 in tax, while an international return flight from the UK to Moscow pays £13 in APD.

From April 2023 there will be a lower rate for domestic flights of £6.50 per leg.

There are exemptions. Long-haul flights from Northern Ireland are exempt from APD, as are departures from remote parts of Scotland.

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