France proposes radical environmental tax on flights

Helen Coffey
·2-min read
Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (Getty Images)
Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (Getty Images)

France is considering introducing a radical eco-tax on flights, which, if approved, would be one of the biggest environmental taxes on air travel of any country in the world.

If it goes ahead, the “reinforced eco-contribution”, which appears similar to the UK’s own Air Passenger Duty (APD), will add a significant amount to the price of air fares.

Short-haul (under 2,000km) economy flights would be taxed €30 one-way; medium to long-haul (over 2,000km) economy at €60 one-way; short-haul business class tickets at €180 one-way; and medium to long-haul business class at a whopping €400 one-way.

The heftiest tax of all would be applied to private jets, with flights taxed at €2,400 one-way regardless of distance, reports financial newspaper Les Echos.

The move could reduce carbon emissions by 3.5 million tonnes a year, according to the country’s Directorate General for Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Other proposed measures designed to “limit the harmful effects of air transport” include banning the construction of new airports and the expansion of existing ones, eliminating domestic flights by 2025 where there’s a low-carbon alternative that takes less than four hours, and adding extra taxes onto recreational aviation fuel.

France’s Ministry of Ecological Transition is having a final meeting about the suggested changes on Saturday, and a bill is expected to be introduced in parliament by the end of October.

It follows the original introduction of an “eco-tax” on flights from France in July 2019, although these rates were set much lower, ranging from €1.50 for short-haul flights and up to €18 for long-haul journeys in business class.

Leading figures in French aviation have hit back at the proposals, calling them the “death” of the industry.

“If these proposals are followed up, it will be death of several airlines and airports in France, which are already undergoing the most violent shock in their history,” said Thomas Juin, president of the Union of French airports.

“We will see massive air connection shutdowns, with serious consequences for tourism and the economy of the [French] territories.”

The DGCA estimates the reinforced eco-contribution would cut the number of air travellers by 14-19 per cent and lead to 120,000-150,000 job losses.

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