A UK airline has responded in a background note to the recent post about the new Air Passenger Duty charges and how they will rob Qantas to pay Emirates.
It says the UK government changed its original plan to impose the duty on the flights, in which it would make the airline pay the aggregate charge according to the head count that is boarded, to one levied on each passenger through the processes by which they pay for their seat.
So, flying Emirates via Dubai would end up costing the same amount in duty as flying Qantas via Singapore.
Not so say the airlines that fly the route here. The air travel duty can only be collected on a fare from London to another destination. If the passenger has two tickets, one from London to Dubai, and another from Dubai to Australia, the UK government can only apply its laws or regulations to the ticket from London to elsewhere, in this case, Dubai, which is subject to a lower duty because it is not as far away as eastern Asia hubs like Bangkok or Singapore. The UK cannot tax the commercial transactions people can make on the web to produce an electronic receipt they can convert into a seat on a flight that completes the journey to Australia.
HMG can be very pig headed about how travellers are treated in the UK. Just look at the ritual punishment of air travellers that have to use Heathrow. But the airlines may well respond in kind, and it could get ugly.
Imagine having your smart phone or PC scanned at Heathrow for evidence of illicit, tax evading e-tickets on the hard drives.