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The eco-tax on airline tickets is controversial

16 Jul, 2019

Last week the government announced a new tax on airline tickets. From 2020 onwards, travellers will have to pay a supplement of between €1.5 and €18 when booking a plane ticket from France. This new measure, taken at the end of the Ecological Defence Council, comes as a result of pressure from environmentalists on the aviation sector. However, the announcement of the ecotax has caused outrage not only among airlines but also among tourism professionals. According to them, this new tax is far from solving the real ecological problem.

The ecotax, what is it?

In recent months, travelers have become more aware of the environmental impact of the airline industry. Some have even decided to review the organization of their holidays to avoid using this means of transport. Little by little, citizen movements have developed to denounce the ecological footprint created by the aviation sector. In response to public discontent, Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne announced that an eco-tax on airline tickets would be introduced in 2020. The amount varies according to the class of travel (economy or business) but also according to the destination (inside or outside the European Union).

This contribution will be borne by passengers who will see the price of their ticket increase. However, this new tax only concerns French air traffic. The ecotax will apply to all flights departing from France (with the exception of flights to overseas territories, Corsica and connecting flights) and will not apply to flights from other countries. According to initial estimates, the ecotax is expected to generate 182 million euros annually. The money raised will be used to finance more environmentally friendly transport projects. The government would like to invest in the development of railways around metropolitan areas to encourage passengers to use this less polluting means of transport.

The reaction of tourism professionals

Following the announcement of the introduction of the ecotax, the tourism stakeholders were quick to react. According to Jean-Pierre Mas, the president of the union of travel companies, this tax is counterproductive and does not contribute to the necessary ecological transition of the air sector. The real problem is that aircraft are responsible for significant CO2 emissions. Given that air traffic is set to double by 2037 (according to the International Air Transport Association), there is a need to focus on global solutions to reduce the volume of greenhouse gases produced by air traffic.

Jean-François Rial, the head of the Voyageurs du Monde group, had the same reaction. According to him, this taxation is inefficient and inappropriate for the following reasons:

  • The amount of the tax collected is not intended to reduce CO2 emissions.
  • Only the aviation sector is concerned by this measure, whereas there are many sectors that emit greenhouse gases (manufacturing industry, construction, etc.).
  • The amount of the tax set by the government is too low to discourage travellers from flying.

Some tourism specialists fear a decline in the attractiveness of certain French regions following the introduction of the ecotax.

Awareness of the airline industry

The impact of air traffic on the environment is undeniable, it is the most polluting transport in the world. The aviation industry is well aware of this environmental problem that affects all countries. That is why various measures have been taken with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft. The CORSIA international agreement is a commitment signed by 16 countries to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

In order to meet this challenge, the aviation sector has to work on several lines of development. Thanks to technical progress, new aircraft models with lower kerosene consumption and more efficient engines are being built. Researchers are working on the development of aviation biofuels. By 2020, more than one million flights will be operated on sustainable fuels. Travellers can also show their commitment by participating in CO2 offset programs. Indeed, some airlines offer the traveller at the time of booking to make a contribution to an environmental project to offset the greenhouse gas emissions produced by his or her air travel.

The ecological impact of air traffic is a global problem that concerns all countries. Although there has been some citizen awareness recently, the sector is not about to run out of steam. To show its commitment, the government saw fit to create a tax to reduce air traffic. This measure has caused outrage among tour operators. Reducing the carbon footprint left by aircraft requires the involvement of all the players in the travel industry worldwide: travellers, airlines, engineers, tour operators, governments, etc.

16 Jul, 2019