APD refunds – ATAB to launch legal claim against airlines

Air Passenger Duty (APD) is a tax on flights from the UK; an unavoidable, highly criticised tax that is collected at the point of sale by airlines on behalf of the Government.

The amount of APD levied is based on distance flown and class of flight with the basic levels currently standing at the following rates for economy flights:

• Band A – flights to Europe £12
• Band B – flights of up to 4,000 miles £60
• Band C – flights to the Caribbean £75
• Band D – flights to Australia and New Zealand £85

Flights in premium seats are charged at double the above rates.

But what happens to the tax you have paid if for any reason that you are unable to fly? Strictly speaking, as the tax is only payable to the Government when you take your flight, you are entitled to a refund. However, many passengers don’t know they are entitled to a refund of their APD, and those that do know are often hampered by airlines that charge an ‘administration fee’ – often more than the tax – to refund your money.

If you don’t reclaim your APD your airline benefits as your tax doesn’t become payable to the Government until you board your flight.

This non refunding of APD is costing the consumer millions. In fact, the The Air Travel advisory Bureau, ATAB stimates that since the introduction of APD in 1994, airlines have withheld tens of millions of pounds from their customers – a Which? report estimated that in 2003 Ryanair pocketed in excess of £5,000,000 pounds in un-refunded taxes.

Outraged by the withholding of APD refunds, the ATAB has teamed up with law firm Barker Gillette to launch a coordinated legal claim against UK airlines that have not refunded APD to passengers.

ATAB Chairman, Tony White said, “It is a scandal that some airlines hang on to this money. It never belonged to them. It’s a tax collected on the behalf of the Government. With a couple of exceptions, most of the UK airlines make it as difficult as possible to get your money back. If you don’t actually fly, for whatever reason, you are entitled to get the APD refunded. The airlines already have your credit card details, they should refund your card immediately. They make it difficult or expensive in the hope that you’ll go away – and most people do just that”.

Over the past few months ATAB has been closely monitoring how different airlines behave when it comes to APD refunds.

“It is truly shocking, we’ve found some airlines that will charge an “administration fee” greater than the value of the refund. This is a complete rip-off and it’s our intention to put an end to it. If you have booked an airline ticket out of the UK anytime since 1994, and not flown, then we want to hear from you” said White.

Steven Barker, a Partner with Barker Gillette, said “Our primary aim will be to ensure that all claims are valid and properly made out. We hope and expect that Airlines will co-operate with us in agreeing and refunding valid claims and that claimants need only seek the assistance of the Courts in respect of legal issues that might not be agreed”

If you have had problems reclaiming your APD check out the ATAB advice at www.atab.org.uk/action-now/reclaim-your-taxes/