Travelers flying long-haul from Britain in business class and first class, as well as on private planes, will pay a little more for leaving the country as of next year.
The UK Treasury will increase so-called 'air passenger duty' for business- and first-class passengers by £16 (A$28) to £172 (A$300) , while lifting the fee for private jets by £47 to £515.
In announcing the increase as part of the nation's Autumn Budget, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond quipped “Sorry Lewis,” an apparent reference to Formula 1 motor-racing champion and private jet owner Lewis Hamilton.
Airlines have been campaigning for years for governments to scrap APD, which is added directly to the price of a ticket.
The new measures, which also extend a five-year freeze on the short-haul duty introduced by former Chancellor George Osborne, are due to take effect from April 2019.
The Airlines UK lobby group said Hammond’s announcement amounts to a “sleight of hand,” and that without a cut in APD the tax will remain the highest in the world. It added that the increase in long-haul duties may threaten the viability of some services, and with Brexit looming “doesn’t do anything” for the nation’s ability to open up links to emerging markets.
While Britain is Europe’s biggest private-jet market, evidence has emerged that UK demand for corporate flights is being held back as uncertainty around the split from the European Union hurts the economy and stymies bookings.
Private flights from Britain advanced 5.9% in the first nine months, versus an 11% jump in Germany, according to data compiled by the European arm of Warren Buffett’s plane-rental specialist NetJets.
While Farnborough, 40 miles southwest of London, remains Europe’s busiest business-jet hub, and had the biggest increase in demand, Munich and Frankfurt ranked second and third for growth.
The data refers to flights involving individuals worth at least €30 million (A$47 million) and corporate executives, about a third of whom are bankers, NetJets said, adding that demand in the category is closely tied to economic growth.