Archived press release
Press & Media

Friends of the Earth and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) are calling on the Chancellor to announce an increase in Air Passenger Duty (APD) [1] on all outward flights from the UK in next week's pre-budget report. The aviation industry receives a number of unfair tax breaks and subsidies and increasing APD would go some of the way towards managing the future demand for air travel and ensuring that the cost of flying begins to reflect the damage it causes to the environment [2].

Later this month the Government's Aviation White Paper is due to be published setting air transport policy to 2030. While green groups and a number of MPs are calling on the Government to develop an environmentally sustainable air transport policy, it is feared that the White Paper will instead include proposals for one or more new runways [3].

The aviation industry benefits from a number of tax breaks and concessions currently amounting to 9.2billion per year [4]. For example it does not pay tax VAT on aviation fuel or new aircraft. Consequently, demand for air travel has soared on the back of cheap air fares that industry is now able to offer. And this has led to demand for more runway capacity to deal with increasing air travel.

The Government estimates that the cost of climate change emissions alone amounts to 1.4 billion per year, though environmental groups say that this figure should be much higher. APD currently raises approximately 800 million each year. Increasing APD by 5 across the board would raise an additional 0.4-0.5billion [5]. Campaigners say that APD should replaced by a more effective environmental charge when one is developed at European and/or International level later.

118 MPs from all 3 main political parties have given their support to ending the tax breaks that aviation industry receives. The MPs all signed Early Day Motion (EDM) 1688 "Aviation Air Pollution, Sustainability and Climate Change" which called on the Government to develop an environmentally sustainable air transport policy and to "eliminate the tax concessions received by the industry" [6].

Friends of the Earth Aviation Campaigner Richard Dyer said:

"Airlines have been pampered by tax-payers money for far too long. Aviation is the fastest growing source of carbon dioxide. Air Passenger Duty does not even cover the cost of the industry's climate change emissions, let alone other impacts such as noise and air pollution. The Chancellor must ignore industrywhingeing and start to make it pay its way."

CPRE Aviation Campaigner, Andrew Critchell said:-

"While airlines squabble over where they want new runways, the Government should take a responsible approach to future air transport growth. Raising Air Passenger Duty will send the right signals that Government is committed to ending air transport's environmental cost-free ticket."


[1] Friends of the Earth's briefing on APD is available here: (PDF†)

[3] A Friends of the Earth press briefing on the Aviation White Paper is available here:†)

[4] The 9.2 billion subsidy is currently calculated as follows:

  • Fuel tax @ 45.8p per litre (the same rate as applied to car fuel) would raise:- 5.7 billion
  • VAT applied to all aspects of aviation would raise:- 4.0 billion
  • Abolishing Duty Free would raise:- 0.4 billion
  • Deducting Air passenger Duty (currently 5 or 10 per ticket) -0.9 billion
  • Current Net Subsidy =9.2 billion

[5] APD is currently charged at between 5 and 10 for EEA destinations and between 20 and 40 for non-EEA destinations

[6] A link to the full text of EDM 1688 including details of which MPs signed it is available here:-

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Published by Friends of the Earth Trust