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France planning eco-tax on air tickets

France will introduce a new charge on plane tickets from next year, with revenue used to fund environment-friendly alternatives, a top French official said on Tuesday.

The ‘eco-tax’ costing between 1.50 euros (US$1.7) and 18 euros (US$20) will apply to most flights departing in France, Associated Press, AP, quoted French Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne as saying.

The only exceptions will be for domestic flights to Corsica, a mountainous Mediterranean island part of France, and France’s overseas territories, and connecting flights that pass through France. It will not apply to flights arriving in France.

The move received a cautious welcome from environmental campaigners, who argue that the airline industry needs to curb its greenhouse gas emissions as part of wider efforts to combat climate change.

“This alone won’t do much, but it’s at least a recognition by the French government that more is required,” said Andrew Murphy, an air travel expert at Brussels-based group Transport and Environment.

According to the transport minister, domestic and European flights will be taxed at 1.50 euros for economy tickets and 9 euros ($10) for business class, rising to 18 euros for business flights outside the European Union.

By comparison, Britain’s air passenger duty for standard passenger planes starts at 13 pounds ($16.20), rising to a maximum of 172 pounds ($214.20), and generates more than 3 billion pounds in Treasury revenue every year.

The French tax is expected to raise over 180 million euros ($200 million) from 2020 to invest in eco-friendly transport infrastructure, including rail.

Murphy, the air travel expert, said the French move could boost efforts to introduce a Europe-wide tax on aviation to reflect plane travel’s environmental impact.

Germany, Italy and several other European countries also already have ticket taxes. Sweden is pushing for the VAT exemption that airline fuel enjoys in Europe to be dropped.

Air travel is responsible for more than two percent of man-made greenhouse gas emission, but that share is forecast to grow significantly in the coming decades.

Airlines generally oppose national taxation, arguing this will simply shift plane traffic elsewhere. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) favours a system that allows airlines to offset their emissions by paying for carbon reduction efforts elsewhere, said the AP report.

Source: WAM

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