250,000 tell EU to end airline subsidies, tax breaks, night flights

A coalition of 140 groups representing 250,000 citizens from 10 European countries has called on the EU to strip the aviation sector of the tax exemptions and state aid it currently enjoys, as well as ban flights operating at night.

The ground-breaking Taming Aviation coalition, which includes communities living close to airports, presented MEPs with a petition calling for an end to the situation where European governments miss out on €40 billion every year because commercial airlines pay no tax on fuel and are exempt from VAT.
 
Handing over the petition to the European Parliament’s petitions committee (pictured), the coalition’s co-founder Dr Susanne Heger highlighted the disparity where consumers, small businesses and hauliers pay an average of 48 cent in tax per litre of fuel while commercial airlines in the EU don’t pay a cent in tax to fuel their planes.
 
While EU governments are cash-strapped, European taxpayers must step in to fill the deficit. This subsidising is fuelling air traffic growth, with aviation’s greenhouse gas emissions expected to increase 300% by 2050.
 
Dr Heger said: ‘With air passenger numbers set to grow 4% a year for the next 20 years, the aviation sector can well afford to pay its way. EU governments continuing to allow commercial airlines to free ride to the tune of €40 billion a year with tax exemptions while their night flights pose serious health risks is nothing short of a scandal.’
 
Dr Heger also highlighted the serious health threats posed by aircraft noise with a study from the University of Bern that found that noise increases the risk of dying of a heart attack by up to 50% and is one of the biggest concerns of those who live under flight paths. Up to 200,000 people living under London’s Heathrow flight paths are exposed to this increased risk as they experience noise averaging over 60 decibels.
 
The coalition is demanding that all airports have an eight-hour ban on nighttime flights arguing that only a Europe-wide nighttime ban would be effective as it would stop airlines moving nighttime flights to other airports.
 
The petitions committee will now respond to the submission. It may choose to investigate the issues raised by the petition and then send it to the Parliament plenary, other committees or the European Commission.
 
Aviation is the most carbon-intensive transport mode, responsible for about 5% of global man-made climate change. If it were a country, aviation would be ranked 7th in the world for CO2 emissions. EU aviation emissions, a third of global totals, have doubled since 1990 and will triple by 2050 if unchecked.