Roll on 2015. Flights to far-flung places should be a little cheaper.

In his budget today, the Chancellor George Osborne reformed Air Passenger Duty (APD). Instead of the four bands we have now (A, the short-haul routes, B, C and D, the long-haul routes) there will be two bands. Band A will remain; it’s currently £13 per flight. Band B will stay too, but Bands C and D will be abolished. All long-haul flights will carry the same tax rate – £71.

This takes APD back to a two-band system just as it was in 1994 when it was a fiver on short-haul routes and £10 for long haul.

Currently, the amount of Air Passenger Duty paid is based on the distance from the UK to the capital city of the country you’re visiting. This means that Hawaii is cheaper in terms of APD charged (it’s a Band B country) because Washington DC is closer to the UK than, say, Barbados (Band C) where Bridgetown is the capital.

The news is very welcome. At current levels, a family of four taking economy-class flights to Australia (Band D), for example, will save £104. The saving on flights to Montserrat, Jamaica or Hong Kong (Band C) will be £56.

Travellers splashing out on premium economy, business-class or first-class seats will see savings too. Rates in 2015 will be fixed at £142. At present, they’re £170 for Band C countries and £194 for Band D.

In his speech, the Chancellor said: “To help British businesses strengthen links with high-growth markets, and to go further to make the UK an attractive option for business visitors and tourists, Budget 2014 announces that the government will reform air passenger duty (APD) by abolishing bands C and D from April 1 2015.

“This will eliminate the two highest rates of APD charged on flights to countries over 4,000 miles from Britain, cutting tax for millions of passengers travelling to China, India, Brazil and many other emerging markets.

“This will mean that flights to South Asia and the Caribbean will pay tax at the lower band B rate. The rates applying to private jets which offer an enhanced level of comfort will be set at six times the level of rates applying to economy class.”

The reduced rates kick in in April 2015, but there are increases planned for April 1. See what they are by reading our handy guide to dodging APD (as best you can).

See which countries fall into which bands by following this link.

(Image by Bob Linsdell)

About the author

Oonagh ShielContent Manager at Cheapflights whose travel life can be best summed up as BC (before children) and PC (post children). We only travel during the school holidays so short-haul trips and staycations are our specialities!

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