Could an aviation tax be the answer to the European Union’s carbon emissions worries? A group of European MPs think so, as they met in the Netherlands for a two-day conference on the matter.
Climate change is currently a huge concern, both for the aviation industry and in everyday life. We’re seeing companies like Eviation launch all-electric aircraft, and Ryanair has begun to publish monthly CO2 statistics. Occasionally we see an airline run a plastic-free flight or try a new cleaner fuel. However, despite this apparent openness to reducing carbon emissions, not much actually seems to be happening in the day to day running of the aviation industry.
The argument for
The European Union has a fairly robust rail network, with a wide range of high-speed services. Quite often on the shorter flight connections, there is an alternative and quick rail connection. In some cases, such as Paris to Lyon, this can actually be quicker than flying. Indeed, I recently took the Eurostar from London to Paris and back, and would have to say that the experience was so enjoyable, I would always pick it given the choice.
Having an additional aviation tax would potentially make passengers think twice when booking short flights. Do they really need to take that flight, or would they be better off taking the train? In fact, this would be better than outright banning short domestic flights, as passengers would still be able to travel via air if it was essential.
The money raised from such a tax could then be spent on sustainability projects that work to offset the carbon footprints of flights. This would be almost like the optional carbon offset fee, often available when booking flights.
The argument against
Airlines appear to be set against the tax. According to Runway Girl, the airline industry says that a tax is not the answer. Why? Because it will push flight costs up even more. Airlines don’t want air travel to become more expensive for travellers. Especially at a time when a €50 ticket is a €1 fare, and almost €49 of taxes and fees. However, without an aviation tax, I struggle to see how the issue will be addressed.
All is not lost
According to Runway Girl, six countries within the European Union currently charge some sort of aviation tax. These are:
- and the UK.
It seems like the Netherlands are not far behind. While they don’t currently have such a tax, they are spearheading the movement for a standardised aviation tax in the European Union. This is not particularly surprising, as they were trying to ban flights from Amsterdam to Brussels. However, if they fail with their EU mission, they will introduce a country-specific tax.
What do you think the solution to the issue is? Let us know in the comments!