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IATA advises against EU airfare tax

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on European governments to reject a Dutch proposal for an EU-wide airfare tax and instead focus on sustainable fuels and technologies.

According to an IATA survey, the most popular course of government action that air passengers would prefer to see is the development of sustainable jet fuels (64%), with research and development of new technology and better operations not far behind (62%).

Environmental taxes were one of the least popular options on the IATA survey, said IATA, with just 22% support.

“Aviation takes the climate change challenge very seriously,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “For more than a decade we have set and exceeded tough targets for carbon emissions, and we plan to achieve much more. Public opinion has a clear message to governments: work with aviation to encourage investment in clean fuels, and new hybrid and electric technology. This will help airlines cut emissions in half by 2050.”

The global commercial aviation industry is currently responsible for around 2% of annual global carbon emissions, although demand for air travel is increasing globally and this does not take into account other factors affecting climate change, such as contrails.

“Airlines have spent billions on new planes that have helped to cut emissions per passenger in half since 1990,” de Juniac added. “From next year we will cap emissions in a global offsetting scheme that will generate $40 billion of climate financing. And airlines have bought up all the sustainable aviation fuel that is available. Governments should listen to their citizens. The way forward for aviation and the environment is sustainable aviation fuels. Promoting their commercialisation will do more than any tax.”

The industry target is to cap CO2 emissions by 2020 and cut them in half by 2050 (compared to 2005). This would bring aviation in line with the Paris climate agreement, although the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said last year the terms laid out in that agreement are not sufficient to limit climate change.

“Making it more expensive for people to fly is not the answer,” continued de Juniac. “Rather, action to encourage new technology and sustainable fuels is the solution. Airlines are taking bold steps to cut emissions. Sensible governments should take practical measures to help, not hinder investment through weakening the industry and trying to make flying a preserve of the rich.”