According to research out today 2012 will see a reduction of up to 5% in the number of UK airline passengers, which is being put down to higher Air Passenger Duty.

This equates to 8.6 million fewer flights made by British passengers.

Air Passenger Duty (APD) was introduced as a green measure in 1995 with a flat rate of £5 for EU/UK flights and £10 for the rest of the world. It now takes the form shown in this table with the reduced rate applying to the lowest class of travelling. So every time you fly the government coffers benefit. That must be wrong so let’s have a look at a better idea.

Band

Distance from London

Reduced Rate

Standard Rate

A 0-2,000 miles £12 £24
B 2,001-4,000 miles £60 £120
C 4,001-6,000 miles £75 £150
D 6,001 miles or more £85 £170

This APD tax is paid by the operators but almost always inevitably passed on to the passengers.

If this is raised again next year by twice the level of inflation as the Chancellor, George Osborne, is considering then industry experts expect the number of flights to decrease.

The Express quotes the chief executive of the Board of Airline Representatives, Mike Carrick, as saying “APD is causing a number of foreign airlines to re-assess their UK operations, either by withdrawing flights, or reducing them. Either option has adverse effects on the economy and employment. The Chancellor is urged to lower APD.”

And Darren Caplan the chief executive of the Airport Operators Association said “Passenger numbers have fallen from 240 million to 210 million between 2007 and 2010, and are currently flat-lining at best.” While politicians have been warning Mr Osborne that raising APD will put air travel out of the reach of families going on their holidays.

But wasn’t this the idea in the first place? Something we gave government the mandate to do by voting them in. To reduce air travel thus reducing air travel based pollution?

And when doing that there were always going to be a price to be paid for a greener planet – job losses and reduced profit for air travel or else why are we doing it?

But we need to be a bit more adventurous and original in our thinking on this matter. After all, why should someone who flies once a year pay the tax at all? Surely it is the multiple flight-taker that should pay.

So, why not give everyone in the UK an annual flight miles allowance? Once they’ve used it up then they can only fly more if they buy other peoples’ flight miles. That way, those that don’t choose to fly can directly benefit from their choices and those that fly can pay the going rate, whatever that is at the time.

Then the flight miles can be traded on a market by brokers charging commission ………… aaah, maybe not such a good idea.

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