A tax on domestic air travel has been halved in a controversial move just days before Boris Johnson hosts world leaders at the UN’s climate change summit.
In a move that is likely to anger British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, the cut will be funded by increasing air passenger duty on long-haul flights.
The tax on flights between 2,000 and 5,500 miles to destinations such North America will rise from £82 to £87 per passenger.
A new band of £91 will be levied on passengers flying more than 5,500 miles, meaning much of India and the US west coast will be spared from paying an additional £4.
The changes apply from April 1, 2023.
Successive governments have grappled with the air passenger duty, which is levied on every departure from UK airports.
Previously passengers would pay either £13 or £26 – depending on the class of flight – for services to destinations up to 2,000 miles away. For longer haul flights the charge was £82 and £180.
Because the charge was imposed on every departure, domestic flights attracted the levy twice for a return journey, unlike trips overseas.
By halving the duty for domestic flights, services will now attract the same charge as short-haul return journeys to Europe.
Mr Sunak said: “This will help the cost of living, with 9m passengers seeing their duty cut by half, [and] it will bring people together across the UK. Most emissions come from international rather than domestic aviation.”
The move contrasts with that of Emmanuel Macron, with France banning domestic flights earlier this year where an equivalent rail journey could be completed in two-a-and-half hours.
The Government’s Climate Change Committee advisory body has previously criticised ministers for not doing enough to deter flying.
The £5 increase to many long-haul services comes less than a fortnight before the vital transatlantic air corridor reopens – historically BA’s most profitable route.
With airlines being stung with a rise of up 56pc in landing charges at Heathrow, the additional levy will come as a fresh blow to carriers, squeezing profit margins further.Internet Explorer Channel Network