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Changes to APD deemed 'unimpressive'

Regular travel from the UK to long-haul destinations is an important part of life for many expatriates who regularly return to their nation of birth to visit family or for work.

So with surprising news that the government was looking to overhaul its banding for Air Passenger Duty with a view to making the cost of flights to far-flung corners of the globe much cheaper, there was a certain amount of optimism among expatriates following the announcement of the chancellor's latest budget.

In essence, the reforms on air tax would see, from April 1st 2015, the levy placed on long-haul flights in line with the charges placed on people visiting the US. That amounted to a cut of £14 per person on flights to destinations between 4,001 and 6,000 miles away from London (Band C), while those over 6,000 miles away from the capital (Band D) would see a cut of £26 per person.

Heralding the news, Mr Osborne said it would be particularly welcomed by the UK's large Caribbean and South Asian communities – and by extension, expats who have moved from Britain to these, and other long-haul, destinations.

But now that the dust has settled, response to the reforms has been decidedly mixed, with the abolition of Bands C and D and the reclassification of all long-haul flights to Band B likely to have little real impact for most, according to critics.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Tony Watts, a British expatriate who relocated to Australia, revealed the crux of the issue.

"At face value this looks a good move but the savings are tiny when you factor in how much you still have to pay in airport taxes which soon mount up when you travel with a family," he said. "Often the taxes are as high as the air fare."

Airlines have also come forward to condemn the limited scope of the reforms, with a spokesperson for British Airways labelling it as little more than "window dressing" for a tax that even the man in charge of the Treasury has labelled as crazy.

"It still punishes families and costs UK jobs," he said. "The only long-term solution is to scrap APD in its entirety and allow the aviation and tourism industries to flourish, to the benefit of the wider UK economy. APD remains the highest aviation tax levied in the world."ADNFCR-1788-ID-801708589-ADNFCR

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