The United Kingdom will be reforming its controversial air passenger duty (APD), Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced in his budget address yesterday. He said from next year, all long-haul flights will be lowered to the same rate as those headed to the United States, including flights to the Caribbean, although that overall rate will be rising from its 2013 number.
“We will also reform air passenger duty to end the crazy system where you pay less tax traveling to Hawaii than you do traveling to China or India,” Osborne said. “It hits exports, puts off tourists and creates a great sense of injustice among our Caribbean and South Asian communities here in Britain.”
As of April 2015, the APD will be simplified into a two-band system: Band A for short-haul flights of less than 2,000 miles from London and Band B for all long-haul flights more than 2,000 miles from London. The new Band B will be charged at the planned rate in 2015-16 (£71 or US$117.10 for reduced-rate passengers, and £142 or US$234.20 for standard-rate passengers).
The news has been welcomed by Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Chairman Beverly Nicholson-Doty, who said: “This is a complete victory for the Caribbean which, led by the CTO, has been lobbying against the unfair system which charged a higher rate of APD on flights to Barbados than Hawaii and placed the United States at a competitive advantage.
“We are delighted that the chancellor has finally accepted the Caribbean’s proposal made in November 2010 to return to the simpler and fairer two-band system.”