France could add shockingly high new airline tax
We have seen many governments introduce, or at least consider, environmental taxes on flights. This is intended to help offset emissions and, in many cases, to discourage theft.
Well, as Les Echos reports, France is considering taxing airline tickets to an extent that we have never seen before in the world.
The French Ministry of Ecological Transition will hold a final meeting on this subject on Saturday, before a bill is presented to parliament before the end of the month. 130 of the organization’s 150 members generally support these measures, and apparently President Emmanuel Macron is also in favor of the changes.
What would this new environmental tax on airline tickets look like?
- For economy flights of less than 2000 km, the tax would be 30 EUR one way
- For economy flights over 2000 km, the tax would be EUR 60 one way
- For business class flights of less than 2000 km, the tax would be EUR 180 one way
- For business class flights over 2000 km, the tax would be EUR 400 one way
- For private jet flights, the tax would be EUR 2,400 one way
These taxes are incredibly high, unlike anything we’ve seen before. In other words, a one-way business class ticket between Paris and Istanbul would come with an eco-tax of EUR 400 (~ USD 473), in addition to all other taxes already charged.
It is not entirely clear whether the taxes would apply only to flights departing from France or whether they would also apply to flights to France. I suspect this is the former, much like UK Air Passenger Duty, but I could be wrong.
For certain contexts, once again this year, France has introduced a “solidarity tax for air passengers”, which starts at 1.50 EUR for a short-haul economy ticket and caps at 18 EUR for a long-distance ticket in business class. . Suffice to say that these new proposed taxes are in different leagues.
A one-way business class ticket could have a new fee of EUR 400
How much money would this tax increase?
How much money would be collected if this new tax were introduced?
- Annual taxes on air transport collected by France would rise from 440 million euros to 4.2 billion euros
- Air France’s eco-contribution would drop from € 60 million per year to around € 1.2 billion per year
The General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGCA) of France declares that:
- There is an estimated 14-19% drop in the number of travelers
- There would be around 120,000 to 150,000 jobs lost
- It is specified that in France, planes contribute 4% of greenhouse gas emissions from transport, while cars contribute 90% of emissions.
- This would reduce CO2 emissions by 3.5 million tonnes per year out of a total of 441 million tonnes emitted in France, i.e. a total reduction of 0.79%
- It is even questionable if this would actually reduce emissions as much as expected, as it is likely that for long-haul travel people would instead choose to fly outside of neighboring countries.
This would put Air France at a disadvantage
Other French aeronautical proposals
The new passenger tax above is not the only concept under consideration. The other recommendations of this proposal are as follows:
- By 2025, domestic flights would be completely phased out, when there is a low-carbon alternative in less than four hours
- Prohibit the construction of new airports and the expansion of existing airports
- There is also talk of banning advertising planes and adding additional taxes on recreational aviation fuel.
Airport expansion could be banned under this proposal
This air tax crosses the line
Even before the pandemic, airlines were starting to take environmentalism more seriously, and we’ve seen airlines around the world pledge to offset their carbon emissions. In general, I am not against a small aviation tax if the money goes to causes that help the environment.
However, this proposal being considered by France crosses the line, in my opinion:
- Airlines are facing the worst crisis they have ever known, and it will put them in an even worse situation; it’s one thing to add a tax like this at the best times, but at the worst times?
- In the long run, such changes will lead to airlines having less money to invest in new, more fuel efficient aircraft.
- This unfairly disadvantages those traveling to and from France; I believe that those who connect in France between other countries would not have to pay this tax, while those who fly exclusively between France and another country should pay this tax
- I think governments should push airlines to operate more fuel efficient planes and minimize per capita emissions, rather than trying to destroy aviation altogether.
France is seriously considering new environmental measures for the airline industry, the most important of which is a new tax of 30 to 400 EUR one way. It’s an unbelievably high tax that I just can’t understand, especially at a time when airlines are already struggling to survive.
What do you think of this new air tax proposal in France?