27 SEPTEMBER 2010
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Air France/KLM please read this piece. You may be in for a boom in long distance travel from the UK.
Readers will know that from 1 November, as things stand, Air Passenger Duty (APD) for travellers flying out of a British airport will rise substantially.
The tax is effectively two tiered, is based on the seat pitch, and calculated capital to capital in four bands; up to 2,000 miles (Nicosia is 1,850 and Tel Aviv 2,227), 4,000 miles (Washington is 3,665, Hawaii APD is the same but is at least twice as far), and 6,000 miles taking in the Commonwealth countries of Australia and New Zealand.
The new fees for economy are £12, £60, £75 and £85. With a 40” seat pitch and upwards (effectively Business Class) it is £24, £120, £150, £170. Taking a family of four to see your relations in Perth will cost you £340 before you start. Using perhaps Air Miles and treating your brood to an upgrade takes your donation to government to £680. The Treasury is clearly pro Europe and the fees will only be £48 if you decide on a weekend in France or Spain.
Expensive APD for long distance destinations can easily be avoided. Go via Amsterdam or Paris (or Brussels, Helsinki, Madrid or Zurich – but not Germany). Book a single sector to any of these places and you only pay £12 or £24. The long haul flight reservation would be done separately (but probably at the same time). As noted the saving is substantial.
Yes, technically your luggage would be off-loaded at the change airport but many business people travel only with roller bags even as far as Oz and since the tagging of cases is a very easy airport exercise the first carrier would have no problems in attaching the right three letter bar code at check-in. No doubt the lawyers on both sides would look at this one.
Interestingly HM Revenue and Customs have not updated its notice 550 APD (December 2009), as yet it only detailing the current tax. Officially we don’t know what the new rules are. Upgrades are covered in this 12,000-word 57-page document. Assuming you have not been told in advance of a cabin change (and they are always on a “space available” basis) you should not pay the extra duty.
Paris Charles de Gaulle is a very easy changeover and Amsterdam much the same. Even now many airlines offer long haul connecting flights far cheaper than those available direct via British Airways, bmi and Virgin Atlantic. This Government axed Heathrow’s third runway (with its single opposition group) in favour of a railway dream which will be fought all 400 miles to Edinburgh. It does not seem to have an airline policy (and an invisible Minister). They will also get the blame for the increase in APD. Heathrow is the international aviation hub of the world. But for how long? Drop the increase and blame the previous incumbents.
Schiphol used to promote itself as “London’s third airport”. If AF/KLM gets its act together Charles de Gaulle could be chasing that role.
Editor in Chief