July 18, 2019

A French proposal to implement a new “eco tax” on departing flights marks the latest example of additional regional taxes levied against aviation stakeholders in Europe ostensibly for environmental purposes.

According to reports, French transportation minister Elisabeth Borne cited a “feeling of injustice among our citizens regarding the taxation of airline transport” in her July 9 announcement of a plan to introduce the new tax as soon as 2020 on flights originating in France.

While the initial proposal appears focused on commercial airline travel, it’s likely that business aviation also will be covered. “Aviation is a frequently target of such tax proposals,” said Doug Carr, NBAA vice president of regulatory and international affairs. “We are currently evaluating this proposal and what it may mean for the business aviation community.”

Several EU states have adopted similar environmental levies against aviation, including the United Kingdom’s variable air passenger duty (APD) on passengers leaving from a UK airport on qualifying aircraft, including business aircraft. The growing “flight shaming” movement across Northern Europe has placed additional pressure on regulators to pursue new carbon taxes against aviation. Reportedly, Sweden and The Netherlands also are considering similar measures.

Carr also expressed concern that, as with the APD, revenue from the proposed French tax could be applied not toward further reductions in carbon emissions from aviation, but on funding other government priorities.

“We’ve seen before how aviation has been used to fund matters unrelated to our industry,” he said. “These diversions of aviation resources to other, non-aviation uses have long been a concern for NBAA, especially at a time when our industry already faces numerous equipage, airspace, environmental and safety priorities.”

In consideration of such efforts, Carr emphasized the importance of adhering to a single, global system for mitigating international carbon emissions such as ICAO’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, or CORSIA.

“The single CORSIA measure is our preferred mechanism to address our industry’s environmental impact rather than a patchwork of national schemes,” he said. “However, it’s clear Europe will continue advocating for additional environmental considerations.”