France’s new green tax on air travel: will it be effective?

France has followed other EU member states in an effort to limit the environmental damage caused by air travel. And as part of these efforts, the French government has announced that, as of next year, it will be imposing a new tax on plane tickets.

The tax will be introduced in 2020 and will be €1.50 on economy-class tickets, both within France, and between other EU countries. For business class within the EU, this will go up to €9, and for flights outside the EU, there will be a tax of between €3 and €18.

This will be applied to all outgoing flights; however, those flying into France will not be affected. In addition, flights to Corsica and other French overseas departments will be exempt, as they are highly dependant on air travel links.

This is expected to raise around €180 million a year. The Transport Minister, Elisabeth Borne, said that this money would be used to invest in alternative, less-polluting types of transport infrastructure, and in particular rail travel.

She said that, in light of growing concerns about carbon emissions from trains, “France is committed to the taxation of air transport but there is an urgency here.”

This follows a similar tax in Sweden last year, which added up to €40 to each flight. But, it’s been criticised by airlines, including Air France, who said that the measure would “strongly penalise its competitiveness”, and make it more difficult to invest in new technology.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has also expressed concerns about the move, with the chief executive commenting that “the sector is under considerable pressure,” and that it won’t discourage passengers from flying.

The organisation also argued that the effectiveness of the taxes is “doubtful” and  “no government that introduced a ticket tax has been able to demonstrate that such tax reduced CO2 emissions.”

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