Helicopter Ticket Could Cost £400 Under New Government Air Tax

A return helicopter ticket could soon cost over £400, unless Government plans for passenger duty are stopped, Councillors have heard.

The Chairman of our Council, Mike Hicks, has written to the Treasury, asking for British International Helicopters to be made exempt from a new form of air passenger duty.

The new fuel surcharge was announced in March by the Chancellor, who is hoping to gain extra tax money from private aircraft operators, especially businessman, by adding a fixed fee for each journey.

BIH uses Sikorsky 61s, which will be eligible for a charge for each leg of the journey, unlike Skybus planes, which are under the weight where the new rule would kick in.

The plan will reclassify the helicopters as private jets and they’ll attract around a 275% hike in charges.

On paper, the Government would make between £7m and £9.5m additional income if it were implemented here but it’s unlikely the helicopter service would survive and be able to pay that amount if this form of APD was brought in.

Councillor Hicks and the Town Hall’s Economic Development team have explained to Whitehall how the duty, if introduced here, would work against the Government’s objectives.

It would not help commercial competition, as the helicopters would cease operation leaving just one service.

Their submission also points out that there were 56 days over the last year when the planes couldn’t fly but the helicopters were in the air. British International Helicopters lost only two full days due to technical downtime.

That point stresses the lifeline nature of the service for locals, visitors and business-critical deliveries. 48% of people who flew to the islands last year, that’s nearly 58,000 passengers, used British International Helicopters.

The Penzance to St Marys and Tresco routes are the only passenger rotary services in the country and that is also giving councillors some hope we’ll obtain special dispensation.

The letter says BIH have already had to increase average return fares by up to 80% between 1999 and 2009 because of higher fuels costs, increased landing fees and falling visitor numbers.

There’ll be no ministerial decision until October, Councillors have heard.


11 Responses to Helicopter Ticket Could Cost £400 Under New Government Air Tax

  1. daro August 3, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Its Typical of the authorities to lump every service together when they dream up these plans,they never look at individual or unique cases as scilly almost certainly is.
    i would find a way to get to Scilly if the Scillonian or air service was to become economicaly unviable, a decent Motor Boat is one plan i have in mind ! even though i have been told i would be better off taking a shower and at the same time tear up £50 notes !!

  2. laura pattenden hunt July 27, 2011 at 10:12 am

    there’s always the skybus 🙂 would be a shame for the heli price to go up but it’s already ridiculously high anyway. It’ll still get booked up because you have to be wealthy to visit scilly now anyway, hense I haven’t been for two years 🙁

  3. Mike July 27, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Just seen this on Twitter.

    Doesn’t this government just love to kill its own country financially…..

    Why can’t they make cuts withing themselves and allow us to live!

  4. john simmons July 26, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    I’ll row across if i have to !!

    • Rod and Kate July 29, 2011 at 7:08 pm

      Us to john, let us know when your off and we’ll give you a hand.
      The goverment has to listen and not impliment this charge to BIH and while their at it, sort out the future of the Scillonian crossing, before the only way to get to the Scilly isles is by Skybus, and then the price will really go through the roof!

  5. Rich July 26, 2011 at 11:53 am

    There are 2 sides to this story however unsuprisingly Radio Scilly are just sounding out the negative side of it, it is highly highly unlikely that the fuel surcharge will be implemented on BIH flights to and from the Island – its sad that our local Radio Station seems to be consistent in providing listeners with the negative side of the news to tourists without giving the full story, its not useful for future tourism on the islands.

    • Andy July 26, 2011 at 3:19 pm

      Hi Rich. We’d be happy to run the other side of the story if we had it. At the moment there’s no guarantee that BIH will escape the surcharge hence the reason the Council are writing to the Government. Do you have more information on this story to share with our readers?
      Regards Andy

  6. Jennifer July 21, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    I doubt that most of the yuppies who can afford to visit Scilly will worry, they can afford it!

  7. Reg Thomas July 21, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    I can fly from Dallas Texas to London cheaper than that, taxes included. That is so ridiculous. Great way to choke a business and discourage visitors that prefer chopper travel.

  8. john simmons July 21, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Looks like the scillonian lll will be packed out then!!

  9. Niall July 21, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    I think I will go else where from now on.