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27th September 2011

Air Passenger Duty reduction is welcome says Consumer Council but further action is necessary for No

The Consumer Council has today (27 September) welcomed the news from HM Treasury that Air Passenger Duty (APD) for long haul flights departing from Northern Ireland (NI) is to be reduced. However further action is necessary to ensure the disadvantage NI domestic passengers face is removed altogether. Today’s announcement means that a passenger on a flight to North America will pay APD of £12, instead of £60. In addition, HM Treasury has announced that the responsibility for setting the level of APD will be devolved to the Northern Ireland Executive.

Speaking about the announcement, Aodhan O’Donnell, Director of Policy and Education at the Consumer Council said:  “The Consumer Council has been calling on Government to take action on APD levels to ensure NI passengers are not disadvantaged.  Today’s announcement is, therefore, a step in the right direction, as is the decision to devolve responsibility for APD to the NI Executive.  However, the Consumer Council calls for further action to see APD for all flights to and from Northern Ireland reduced to mirror the Republic of Ireland (ROI) Air Travel Tax (ATT), which is currently €3 to any destination worldwide.  We are concerned that even with the reduction in APD passengers departing from NI will still pay four times more in tax than passengers departing from ROI, both for short haul and long haul flights.”

Continuing Aodhan said:  “NI passengers are significantly more dependant on air travel than their counterparts in GB[1] and high levels of APD therefore disproportionately disadvantage consumers in NI, particularly domestic passengers.  Reducing APD to mirror levels of Air Travel Tax in the ROI will help support Northern Ireland’s existing air services and assist the development of international routes, ensuring consumer choice and supporting the region’s economic development.  The Consumer Council will continue to press for APD decisions to be in the best interest of the NI passenger.”

Notes to Editors

APD is levied on journeys where the initial flight departs from a UK airport and the charge is based on the final destination of the flight.  For example, a passenger travelling return from Belfast City to Heathrow will be charged £24, i.e. £12 per leg.

The current rates of APD are shown below:

APD BandEconomy ClassBusiness/First classRepublic of Ireland ATT

A(0 – 2000 miles)

e.g. flights to UK and Europe


B(2001 – 4000 miles)

e.g. flights to USA

£60 (GB departure)

£12 (NI departure)

£120 (GB departure)

£24 (NI departure)


C(4001 – 6000 miles)

e.g. flights to Thailand


D(over 6000 miles)

e.g. flights to Australia


75 per cent of passengers travelling through NI airports are flying to or from a UK airport and these passengers are paying more in APD than passengers travelling to or from an airport outside the UK.

The reduced rate of APD will apply from 1 November 2011 



  1. Consumer Council media contact: Irene Overend, telephone, 028 9067 4816 or 07825147496 or e-mail,  
  2. The Consumer Council is an independent consumer organisation, working to bring about change to benefit Northern Ireland’s consumers. The Council campaigns for high standards of service and protection and a fair deal for all. It also carries out research, gives advice and publishes reports and other publications. It deals with individual complaints about buses, trains, planes, ferries, natural gas, electricity, coal and water.
  3. For more information, visit our website at

[1] NI consumers travel by air 14 per cent more than the UK average. Statistic calculated based on Civil Aviation Authority passenger figures and UK population figures.