George Osborne has announced that under 12s travelling in economy will no longer pay Air Passenger Duty from May next year, with the exemption being extended to under 16s from 2016.
The Chancellor confirmed the plans – which he said are designed to reduce the cost of flights for families – during this year’s Autumn Statement. Note though that the exemption will not apply to children flying in premium economy, business or first class.
Low-cost carrier Easyjet welcomed the news, with a banner on the homepage of its website proclaiming “By George he’s finally on board… Great news for families, George Osborne cuts child Air Passenger Duty”.
The carrier says it will refund APD charges already paid by customers for flights being taken after May 1, 2015, for any passenger who will be under the age of 12 at the time of departure.
The Airport Operators Association also commended the Chancellor’s “bold decision”, but said it would “continue to campaign for APD to come down across the board, in all areas of the UK”.
Willie Walsh, chief executive, International Airlines Group, said:
“Scrapping APD for children might be popular with some voters and will definitely be welcomed by hard pressed families travelling on their summer holidays, but it will do nothing to improve the UK economy. APD must be axed in its entirety not just for children. The UK still has the highest flying tax in the world and it should be abolished to allow the aviation and tourism industries to flourish, to the benefit of the wider UK economy”.
And Flybe’s CEO Saad Hammad said that while the move “is to be welcomed”, her warned that “this is just tinkering at the edges and represents a missed opportunity by The Chancellor to show that he is serious about the economic regeneration of the UK regions”.
Today’s announcement follows the decision earlier this year to scrap bands C and D of the Air Passenger Duty from April 2015 (see news March 19).