Airfare has been on the rise around the world but in the UK it has always seemed to be just a bit higher than the rest.
One of the big reasons. Taxes.
If you’ve ever flown from a UK airport, you may have noticed that airline taxes in the United Kingdom are relatively higher compared to other countries. Often times this is reflective in the ticket price and has been a huge burden to passengers that are either flying to the UK or connecting via a UK airport.
I’ve noticed this many times with fares for my flights on Virgin Atlantic from Newark or United Airlines from Chicago being a bit higher flying to the UK than elsewhere in Europe
This will always be the case with cash fairs but you will also notice heft fuel surcharges on points flights as well.
This shouldn’t stop you from visiting the UK as they have some of the best hotels especially in London.
But what gives and why are taxes at UK airports so high?
How Airline Taxes Work
When you purchase a ticket on an airline, the cost of the ticket includes various taxes and fees that are charged by governments and airports. These taxes and fees can vary depending on the destination, route, and airline, but they typically include the following:
- Passenger Facility Charge (PFC): This fee is charged by airports to help fund improvements and maintenance of airport facilities. The PFC can range from a few dollars to over $20 per passenger, depending on the airport.
- Airline Fuel Surcharge: This fee is added to the ticket price to cover the cost of fuel. It can vary depending on the price of oil and the airline’s fuel consumption.
- Airport Taxes: These taxes are charged by governments to cover the cost of airport security, customs and immigration, and other airport-related services. They can vary widely depending on the destination and country.
- Value Added Tax (VAT): This tax is charged by some countries on the sale of goods and services, including airline tickets. The VAT rate can vary depending on the country.
- Departure Tax: This tax is charged by some countries on passengers departing from their airports. It can range from a few dollars to over $100 per passenger.
- Passenger Service Charge (PSC): This fee is charged by some airports to cover the cost of airport services, such as baggage handling and check-in. It can range from a few dollars to over $20 per passenger.
There are a number of factors that go into calculating the above taxes especially departure country, arrival country, and the list of countries airspace you will cross over during your journey.
Airline Taxes in the UK
One of the main reasons for high airline taxes in the UK is a specific Air Passenger Duty, which is a tax levied on passengers departing from UK airports. The APD is charged on a per-passenger basis, and the amount varies depending on the destination and class of travel.
For example, the APD for an economy class passenger flying to a destination within the EU is about £13, while the APD for a business class passenger flying to a destination outside the EU is £172.
The UK government justifies the high APD rates by saying that they help to reduce carbon emissions and encourage people to choose more sustainable modes of transport. By making air travel more expensive, the government hopes that people will be more inclined to use alternative modes of transport, such as trains or buses.
However, many people believe the tax is simply a way for the government to raise revenue, as the rates are much higher than the environmental cost of air travel.
The Value Add Tax (VAT) in the UK also seems to be much higher than the rest.
Currently, the VAT rate for airline tickets is 20%, which is significantly higher than the rate of VAT on other goods and services, which is currently 5%. The high VAT rate on airline tickets is a result of the UK’s membership in the European Union, which sets a minimum VAT rate of 15% for all member states.
Summary & Takeaways
Overall, the high airline taxes in the UK can make air travel more expensive, which can be a deterrent for some passengers. However, the government argues that the taxes are necessary to help reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainable travel. Whether or not you agree with the high tax rates, it’s clear that air travel will continue to be a heavily taxed industry in the United Kingdom for the foreseeable future.