UK Cuts APD For Domestic Flights But Raises It For Ultra-Long-Haul

The UK Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has revealed plans to reform how Air Passenger Duty (APD) is applied to…

UK Cuts APD For Domestic Flights But Raises It For Ultra-Long-Haul

The UK Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has revealed plans to reform how Air Passenger Duty (APD) is applied to travelers on flights taking off from the country. Domestic flights will see a lower rate of APD applied. However, those on ultra-long-haul flights will suffer, with an increased rate applied.

The UK Government has announced a shakeup in air passenger duty. Photo: Heathrow Airport

Air Passenger Duty has been a hot topic when discussing aviation in the UK over the past year. It was one of the factors cited in the demise of Flybe and has attracted criticism from a range of other operators. Now, the UK government is taking steps to address the issue.

Changes coming into force

Presenting his budget to the House of Commons earlier today, Chancellor Rishi Sunak revealed that the UK would shake up its current APD regulations, according to Sky News. From April 2023, the changes will mean that domestic travelers will see their APD cut in half, something Sunak says will,

“Bring people together across the United Kingdom, and because they tend to have a greater proportion of domestic passengers, it is a boost to regional airports like Aberdeen, Belfast, Inverness, and Southhampton.”

This move will likely be welcomed by all domestic airlines, particularly those without significant international operations. APD was seen as a big part of the fall of Flybe. Passengers used to have a return flight APD exemption, but the UK was required to remove this in 2001.

UK Government, Air Passenger Duty, Ultra-Long-Haul
APD will be slashed in half for domestic flights. Photo: Getty Images

A trade-off for long-haul passengers

While the changes to APD are great news for domestic travelers, those who like to venture further afield will end up paying more APD when flying. Sunak revealed that the economy rate for flights over 5,500 miles (8,851 kilometers) will increase to £91 from April 2023. He didn’t reveal what the premium economy, business class, and first class rates would be.

The increased APD seems to be angled as a form of carbon emissions tax, with Sunak commenting,

“We’re also making changes to reduce carbon emissions from aviation. Most emissions come from international, rather than domestic aviation. We are introducing from April 2023 a new ultra-long-haul band in air passenger duty… less than 5% of passengers will pay more, but those who fly the furthest will pay the most.”

UK Government, Air Passenger Duty, Ultra-Long-Haul
Qantas will be one of the carriers affected by the increased ultra-long-haul rate. Photo: Getty Images

As Sunak mentioned, the change will only impact a handful of passengers. The majority of destinations served by carriers from the UK will fall within 5,500 miles. The primary destinations affected will include the likes of Singapore, Hong Kong, southeast China, South Africa, and the farther destinations in South America. Qantas will also face the increased tax on flights to Australia.

According to data from Cirium, only 19 routes further than 5,500 miles from their origin are planned to depart the UK in November. These are,

Bangkok - ThailandKuala Lumpur - MalaysiaSeoul Incheon - South Korea
Brunei - BruneiManila - PhilippinesShanghai - China
Buenos Aires - ArgentinaMauritius - MauritiusSingapore - Singapore
Cape Town - South AfricaMexico City - Mexico CityTaipei - Taiwan
Darwin - AustraliaOsaka - JapanTokyo Haneda - Japan
Hong Kong - Hong KongPhuket - Thailand
Johannesburg - South AfricaPuerto Vallarta - Mexico

Is it worth it?

While Sunak angled the change at reducing carbon emissions, one must wonder how much of an impact the charge will have. Passengers currently pay an APD of £82 on such flights in the economy cabin, rising to £84 in April 2022. An extra £7 doesn’t seem like it will make a huge impact. The increase is by 7.7%. Applying the same boost to the standard rate of £185 for premium economy and upwards, the fee is only around an extra £14.

While passengers will pay more, such low increases seem unlikely to put many passengers off. It also doesn’t seem that the government will spend the money on reducing emissions. At the Airlines for Europe AGM in 2020, Ryanair Group CEO Michael O’Leary commented,

“The UK raises billions each year in APD, and not one pound has ever been spent on the environment. We have sent three or four separate questions to the treasury in the UK asking them to identify even one environmental project that APD has been spent on. They can’t even identify one.”

UK Government, Air Passenger Duty, Ultra-Long-Haul
Sunak suggests the increase will reduce emissions, but airline CEOs don’t support this view. Photo: Stansted Airport

While Willie Walsh, then CEO of British Airways owner IAG and now Director-General of IATA, added,

“IAG paid €967 million in air passenger duty in the UK last year, not a single cent of that money went to environmental research or environmental support. The idea that we add more taxes is just damaging to the industry because it is reducing our ability to invest in new technology, and our ability to invest in sustainable biofuels, and our ability to invest in research and development.”

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So, what is APD?

APD, or Air Passenger Duty, is a fee charged for every passenger on a plane weighing 5.7 tonnes or more and fueled by kerosene regardless of whether passengers have paid for the flight or not. There is a limited set of exceptions, such as passengers on pleasure flights arriving at the same airport within 60 minutes of departure.

There are two bands to the tax. Band A includes flights where the distance from London to the destination country’s capital city is 2,000 miles or less, primarily consisting of geographic Europe. Band B includes countries where the capital city is more than 2,000 miles.

Ryanair, Ghost Flights, COVID-19
Ryanair’s cheapest fares are less than what it pays on APD. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

There are three types of rates. The lowest class of travel where seats have a pitch of under 40 inches (1.016m) counts as the reduced rates. Higher classes of travel or the lowest class where the pitch is more than 40 inches attract the standard rate. Meanwhile, planes weighing 20 tonnes or more carrying fewer than 19 passengers use the higher rate.

For Band A destinations, the rates of APD currently sit at £13 (reduced), £26 (standard), and £78 (higher). For Band B destinations it is £82, £180, and £541 respectively. From April 2022, these will rise to £84, £185, and £554.

Unfair on regional carriers

By halving the rate for domestic flights, the UK government is effectively putting airlines on a level playing field. A flight operating from London to Edinburgh and back would attract a basic rate of £26, compared to £13 for a flight operating from London to Paris and back.

Of the £250 million paid in APD from domestic flights in the UK in previous years, Flying was responsible for £106. It had pleaded with the UK to cut APD by half, but it seems that the drop came too late. Burdened partly by the cost of APD, Flybe ceased operations in early March 2020.

What do you make of the UK Government’s planned APD reform? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!

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33 Years Of Flight: The Story Of The ATR 72

Today marks 33 years since the first flight of the ATR 72. Although it entered production after the…

33 Years Of Flight: The Story Of The ATR 72

Today marks 33 years since the first flight of the ATR 72. Although it entered production after the smaller ATR 42, it has actually outsold the type more than twice over. Let’s take a look back at the development and operational history of this popular regional turboprop.

The ATR 72 remains in production today, after more than three decades in the skies. Photo: ATR

Developed from the ATR 42

While it has been 33 years since the ATR 72 took to the skies, its story dates back four years further. This is because the type is a direct development of the smaller ATR 42, which made its inaugural test flight in 1984. This French-Italian turboprop design was the result of a joint venture between Aérospatiale and Aeritalia that created ATR as a company.

Although the ATR 42 performed well in its niche (the sub-50 seat market), ATR recognized the need to go larger as the 1980s wore on. This prompted it to consider stretching the plane to raise its capacity from 48 to 78 seats. The wingspan would also be widened, with these factors being accompanied by increases in engine power and fuel capacity.

Therefore, in January 1986, the company announced that it would be launching a stretched program, with the resulting aircraft designated as the ATR 72. Interestingly enough, this came just a month after the original ATR 42 entered service with Air Littoral.

Loganair ATR 42 & 72
Loganair flies both the ATR 42 (left) and the larger ATR 72 (right). Photo: Ronnie Robertson via Flickr

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A double anniversary

ATR was able to develop and test its new stretched aircraft relatively quickly, given that it had a high degree of commonality with the existing ATR 42. As such, by 1988, the first example of the larger regional turboprop was ready to take to the skies. It did so 33 years ago today, on October 27th that year, receiving its airworthiness certification 11 months later.

Having been deemed to be airworthy by the French Civil Aviation Authority in September 1989, ATR wasted no time putting the type into service. This resulted in a double celebration the following month, as Finnair introduced the ATR 72 on October 27th, 1989. This was, of course, the first anniversary of the type’s maiden test flight, and 32 years ago today.

Finnair ATR 72
Finnair introduced the ATR 72 32 years ago, and still flies the type today. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr

Several different variants

According to data from, ATR has produced more than 1,200 72 series aircraft in the 33 years since the type’s first flight. Naturally, this has led to considerable diversity within the series, resulting in several different variants of the popular turboprop. For example, early aircraft from the ATR 72-200 series had four-blade propellers.

Meanwhile, the propellers used on later iterations such as the -500 and -600 sport six blades. ATR also produced a modified version of the -200 series known as the 72-210. This version’s Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127 engines offered greater power, and, thus, greater performance levels, in ‘hot and high‘ conditions than the -200’s PW124B turboprops.

ATR 72-600
The ATR 72-600 is the series’ most advanced variant yet. Photo: ATR

As the 20th century drew to a close, ATR received certification for the 72-500 in January 1997. This aircraft, officially designated as the 72-212A, also benefits from Pratt & Whitney Canada’s more powerful PW127 engines, as well as greater automation levels.

More recently, ATR has continued its development of the type in the form of the modern 72-600 variant. Its PW127M engines have the capability to deploy a 5% boost in power when takeoff conditions demand it. Pilots of the -600have the advantage of a five-LCD screen cockpit, which provides more information in a clearer manner than previous EFIS setups.

Performance and specifications

But how exactly does the ATR 72 stack up when it comes to its performance figures? We shall now examine the key numbers for the latest -600 version. It is worth noting, to begin with, that this variant can seat up to 78 passengers instead of the previous 74-seat maximum. This is thanks to the EASA’s 2015 approval of a new high-density layout for the type.

Aer Lingus ATR 72
Boarding and disembarking from the rear of an ATR 72 allows the plane’s luggage to be dealt with quicker at the front, as seen here in Dublin. Photo: Jake Hardiman | Simple Flying

Starting with the ATR 72-600’s dimensions, the aircraft is 27.17 meters long, with an almost identical wingspan of 27.05 meters. These wings have an area of 61 square meters. Its cabin is 2.57 meters wide at its broadest point, and the plane is 7.65 meters tall.

As far as performance is concerned, the ATR 72-600 has a 1,528 km (825 NM) range, based on a 70-passenger load. It cruises at 510 km/h (280 knots), and has a service ceiling of 25,000 feet. When operating at its maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 23,000 kg, the ATR 72-600 typically demands 1,367 meters of runway to take off, making it ideal for small airports.

As far as sales are concerned, the ATR 72 has also been hit. As we established, ATR has produced more than 1,200 examples across all variants to date, and is yet to end its production cycle. Meanwhile, the smaller ATR 42 was unable to reach the 500-unit mark.

Atr 72 sunset
ATR delivered its 1,000th 72 series aircraft in July 2018. Photo: Getty Images

Still widely used today

After more than three decades of service, the ATR 72 remains a widely used aircraft even today. Data from ch-aviation shows that, of the 1,252 examples produced to date, more than half are currently active. Of these 667 turboprops, the oldest is EC-JXF. Clocking in at 32.76 years of age, this Swiftair ATR72-200F is an ex-Air Nostrum converted freighter.

At the other end of the scale, the youngest active example listed by ch-aviation is IndiGo’s VT-IRA. The Indian carrier took delivery of this 78-seat ATR 72-600 just over a month ago, on September 21st, 2021. It now operates 33 of these aircraft, with an average age of just 2.6 years old. They are certainly here to stay, with another 20 also on order at IndiGo.

Czech Airlines ATR72
More than half of all the ATR 72s produced are active today. Photo: Jake Hardiman | Simple Flying

In terms of aircraft usage, the ATR 72 that has accumulated the most flight cycles is OY-RUR. This 32.34-year-old ATR 72-200 has been flying for DAT since November 2019. Meanwhile, in terms of hours, the busiest ATR 72-200 by this metric is Air Thanlwin’s XY-AIM, with 49,993. With the type still in production, it’s fair to say that we shall continue to see ATR 72 series planes racking up impressive figures like these for many years to come.

What do you make of the ATR 72? Have you ever flown on one of these French-Italian turboprop airliners? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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