Aviation continues to be lightly taxed. In the UK the only tax applied to the industry is Air Passenger Duty which, in contradiction to the polluter pays principle, does not reflect the environmental costs caused by aviation.
Six civil society groups – Green Alliance, Transport & Environment, Aviation Environment Federation, Bellona, Tax Justice UK and Greenpeace UK – believe that for aviation taxes to reflect these costs, they must be reformed to include a kerosene tax, VAT on tickets, and specific non-CO2 charges.
Aviation’s treatment “is in contrast to ordinary road users, meaning that any driver that has ever filled up their car with petrol has paid more fuel duty than British Airways, Ryanair and Easyjet combined have ever paid on their flights,” they write in a letter to the Treasury.
Partly as a result of this lack of taxation, UK aviation’s emissions have increased by 125% since 1990, in direct contrast to the UK’s overall emissions, which have decreased by 43% in the same period. Indeed, UK aviation emissions were higher in 2019 than they have ever been. At a time when the world’s eyes are on the UK COP, and following the UK government’s decision to include emissions from international aviation and shipping in future carbon budgets, the groups say need immediate taxation reforms are needed to reflect the UK’s vision of being world leaders in decarbonising aviation.
“We believe that a kerosene tax should be applied to all fuel uplifted in the UK, as quickly as possible,” the write. Airlines do not pay taxes or excise duties for the kerosene they uplift in the UK. Clearly this is in contrast to ordinary road users, meaning that any driver that has ever filled up their car with petrol has paid more fuel duty than British Airways, Ryanair and Easyjet combined have ever paid on their flights.”
The European Commission has proposed that taxes should be applied to all intra-EU flights, at a rate of €0.38/litre. The groups say the UK should not only match this proposal, but should consider going further. Failure to at least match the proposals risks increasing greenhouse gas emissions through tankering.