The price of flying will be cut dramatically for families from today after government reforms to air taxes.Air passenger duty (APD) will be abolished for under-16s in a move that will save families £13 for every child on a short-haul flight and £71 for long-haul travel. APD is added to the ticket price of every flight in and out of the UK.
The move was first announced by George Osborne in 2014 and is designed to boost family finances and international tourism.
However, airlines have warned that it falls far short of the measures needed to stimulate the travel industry.
They want the complete abolition of APD, insisting that the air tax is the most expensive of its kind in Europe. It has been ditched or dramatically cut back in most countries, including Ireland, which abolished it in April 2014.
Independent analysis by PwC has found that scrapping APD could lead to a £16 billion financial boost to the British economy within three years.
However, Damian Hinds, the Treasury minister, insisted that the change being introduced today would make a big difference to travellers.
“Aviation plays a key role in our economy and in the midst of a volatile economic outlook it is crucial we help families where we can,” he said. “As passengers flying to the UK from abroad will also see the benefit of this exemption I hope it proves an incentive to families abroad to enjoy this country’s own world-leading tourism industry.”
Today’s change means that a two-child family travelling to the US would see a saving of £142. About £26 would be saved on a short-haul flight to Europe.
•Dozens of flights were delayed or diverted when the runway at Gatwick airport had to be closed for more than an hour yesterday morning because of a suspected oil spill.
According to Gatwick’s website at least 19 incoming flights were diverted to other airports and a number of departing services were delayed.
An airport spokesman said: “Arriving and departing flights recommenced from Gatwick at 11.38am. The runway closure has caused some flights to be diverted to other airports in the area and there will be delays to some departing flights.”