Following intense lobbying, mainly from the General Aviation Strategic Forum (GASF), HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is putting out to consultation the situation regarding reduced rates of excise duty on aviation fuel (AVGAS) as used both in commercial and leisure flying operations.
GASF is a grouping of key members of the UK general aviation (GA) community and encompasses British Business and General Aviation Association (BBGA), Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), General Aviation Alliance (GAA) and British Helicopter Advisory Board (BHAB).
The European Commission has refused the UK government”s request for a continuation of a concession that has enabled aviation fuel duty to be set below the minimum levels required.
Since that decision last November, GASF has been working with HMRC to find an acceptable way forward. The current situation is that a reduced rate of duty is payable on AVGAS (petrol as used on light aircraft), currently charged at half the price of leaded petrol rate. GASF believes that this should stay, taking into account that it is impossible to differentiate between private and commercial use of petrol driven aircraft.
In its consultation introduction, HMRC notes that AVTUR (aviation turbine) fuel has a nil rate of duty under various regulations. Most suppliers to large airlines are for corporate/business use and clearly commercial.
Taxing AVTUR and allowing a refund for business/commercial use is not an option as this would be contrary to international conventions, HMRC states in the document. Under the proposed scheme AVTUR would remain fully rebated but duty paid on what it calls ”private pleasure flying.”
BBGA chief executive and GASF chair, Mark Wilson, was asked to comment: "Often we hear a call for there to be a single voice for GA; our work on this issue shows the GASF is the best way to present the views of GA. This does not mean a simple ”single voice” but a much more powerful unified position from all members of the GA the community.”
GASF says that the consultation is not in itself a victory but provides a way forward. Wilson urged all involved to contact their associations to ensure their voice is heard: ”This shows the value of associations," he explained, "those who are not members of an association should give a thought to the impact a 30p per litre increase in AVGAS would have on their flying or their business ” and realise strong associations are vital to the future of GA."