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Air Passenger Duty cuts 'good news'

Published 30/04/2015

The Air Passenger Duty saving on short-haul holidays will be £13 for each child under 12
The Air Passenger Duty saving on short-haul holidays will be £13 for each child under 12

Family holidays will cost less from tomorrow when the Air Passenger Duty (APD) airport departure tax is scrapped for under-12s.

The abolition will mean parents with two youngsters will save as much as £142 on long-haul trips to destinations such as USA, Thailand and Australia.

The saving on short-haul holidays will be £13 for each child under 12, with APD due to be scrapped for under-16s from March 2016.

Air travellers have already benefited from the reorganisation of the pricing bands for APD which came into effect on April 1.

This rejigging resulted in the scrapping of the two-highest APD rates meaning air travellers were left with two rates for economy-seat travel - a Band A rate of £13 per passenger on flights of less than 2,000 miles and a Band B rate of £71 per passenger for flights of more than 2,000 miles.

Band A includes European destinations as well as Turkey, Western Russia, Morocco and Tunisia.

The scrapping of the higher rates also ends a vagary in the system which saw UK travellers paying more in APD for an eight-hour flight to, say, Barbados, than on an 11-hour flight to San Francisco.

Mark Tanzer, chief executive of travel organisation Abta said: "Families flying as part of their holidays this summer will be pleased to see a reduction in their air tax.

"Whilst this is undoubtedly good news for holidaymakers, British travellers still face the highest air taxes on air travel anywhere in Europe and Abta, along with other members of the Fair Tax on Flying campaign, is as committed as ever to making the case against this damaging tax."

Abta said most airlines and travel companies had refunded or would refund APD on flights for under-12s that were booked and paid for before the reductions were announced in last year's Autumn Statement by Chancellor George Osborne.

Abta said holidaymakers should contact their travel company or airline to find out more.

British Airways said: "Customers who had already booked their flights directly with BA prior to the announcement will automatically receive their child's APD refund once their flight has departed the UK.

"In the case of domestic flights, the refund will be triggered once the final leg has been flown.

"Our systems were updated in December 2014 so that for any new bookings made for flights departing from May 1, APD will not be charged on childrens' tickets."

BA went on: " Customers who booked through a travel agent and whose bank statements show their payment was made directly to BA will also receive an automatic refund.

"Some customers whose payments were processed by a company other than BA will need to apply to their travel agent for their refund."

EasyJet said anyone who had made a booking for travel on or after May 1 2015 and their child was aged two (the age by which a seat has to be booked) and under-12 on the date of departure from a UK airport was entitled to a refund of the child's APD.

Virgin Atlantic said those that had booked before the change was announced had been automatically refunded.

Earlier this week, airline body the British Air Transport Association (Bata) highlighted HM Revenue and Customs' statistics which showed passengers paid £3.17 billion in APD in 2014/15.

This was 5.2% more than in 2013/14, with Bata adding that t he Office for Budget Responsibility was estimating the take from APD would increase by a further £500 million during the next Parliament despite the changes to children's APD this year and next.

Bata added that by 2019/20, APD was forecast to raise £3.7 billion a year - more than beer and cider duties (£3.6 billion) and the TV licence fee (£3.3 billion).

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