The air passenger duty is due to increase. It’s a rule that taxes like this always increase ("passengers now being asked to pay up to ten times more tax since APD’s introduction"), and always get more complicated:
The new APD places foreign destinations in bands, depending on how far they are away from the UK, increasing the amount of air tax paid as the distance increases.
That smells like a recipe for politicians to engineer their favoured outcomes.
However, the Caribbean is complaining that it has been unfairly hit after it was put in band C despite being only eight hours from the UK. Los Angeles in the USA is in the cheaper band B even though it is 12 hours away.
Malice, incompetence, or trade winds?
The current government wants to double the revenue it earns from aviation tax in the next four years from £28.9bn to more than £56bn. Of course, extra costs to airlines eventually find their way to customers too.
Back to the 70s we go: cheap air travel is doomed. When will the Laffer curve kick in?
Reading through the search results for “air passenger duty” on BBC News gives some sense of the inevitability of it all: Air passenger duty was invented in 1994, and in 2003 the greens were calling for it to be increased. In the 2004 budget it was frozen. There was constant clamouring to increase it, which finally happened in February 2007. Just one year later, MPs were calling for it to increase again. The current increases were planned by Alastair Darling shortly afterwards. The first of these happened this time last year.
Update: Tim Worstall says that airlines who complain that this tax is bad because it will dissuade people from flying are forgetting that this is the point of the tax. So I suppose airlines have to say something like, “dissuading people from flying is bad because the planet does not need saving”. For some reason large companies are reluctant to say such things.