Chirac’s aviation ticket tax initiative approved

The French parliament has approved plans for a tax on airline tickets which will come into effect on 1 July.

Sketch of some documents (default image for news

[mailchimp_signup][/mailchimp_signup]The vote on 22 December was the last legislative obstacle for the measure proposed last year by the country’s president Jacques Chirac as a way of raising money to fund Aids, malaria and tuberculosis programmes in the developing world.

The tax will range from €1 to €40 per ticket on flights leaving France, depending on the distance travelled and the class of ticket.

The United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan has called on governments around the world to follow France’s lead. France says up to 70 countries support the measure, and Chile’s president Ricardo Lagos said in September his country would introduce a similar charge of $2 per ticket, though he has since lost the presidency.

Though the aviation industry is strongly opposed to the tax, fearing it will lead to fewer passengers, its introduction will come as both air travel and air freight continue to rise.

AIR GROWTH

The latest growth figures from the EU’s statistical office Eurostat (for 2004) show both passengers and freight rose by nearly 10%, and there is growing evidence that affluent people taking low-fare flights are a significant part of the growth.

The 2004 figures show total passengers transported by air in the 25 member states up by 8.8% to 650 million. Of these, 24% were carried on national flights, 42% on intra-EU flights, and 34% involving outside countries (European and intercontinental). The busiest airport was London’s Heathrow, with Paris Charles de Gaulle second and Frankfurt third.

Air freight rose by 9.6% to almost 10.7 million tonnes, 80% with non-EU countries. German and British airports handled almost half the total.

Meanwhile, a survey of low-fares airlines by the British aviation authority CAA shows the richest quarter of society accounts for more than half of all flights operated by budget airlines, with the poorest quarter of society taking just 10%.

The significance of the survey lies in the fact that the boom in low-fares airlines has been driven from Great Britain. It predicts the trend will continue: “As affluence increases, so does the willingness to spend money on foreign holidays.”

Brendon Sewill of the Aviation Economics Group, which assesses the social and economic impact of air travel, said the report undermined the British government’s policy that air travel is essential to the economy. He said: “It is distressing for people whose homes are affected by flights to discover they are suffering not for the economy but to allow the better-off to enjoy weekends abroad.”

• Environmental groups in Spain have criticised a “rewritten” environmental impact assessment which has enabled building work to recommence on a controversial airport at Ciudad Real. They say the new assessment is no better than the original one, which was so poor it caused work on the airport to be suspended.

This news story is taken from the February 2006 edition of T&E Bulletin.