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AEA Pressrelease 14 Oct.08

Ill-timed proposal will hurt consumers and businesses, says airline body

The Association of European Airlines has challenged the Belgian Government to ‘come clean’ on its proposal to charge a tax on passengers using Belgian airports, and admit that it is a purely money-grabbing exercise which will have no discernible effect on the environment, contrary to Government claims.

The tax proposal, to charge passengers per flight, was announced today in the Prime Minister’s budget speech, in which it was claimed that long-suffering airline passengers would contribute €132 million annually to the Belgian treasury. However, the tax is promoted as a measure to benefit the environment through a reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions.

Said AEA Secretary General Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus: “There is a perverted logic here: either the treasury benefits from passengers paying the tax, or the environment – supposedly – benefits from passengers not flying. You can’t have it both ways”.

Aviation, he said, contributed just 2% to global carbon dioxide worldwide, and Belgian aviation a tiny fraction of that. Moreover, aviation was engaged in a concerted initiative to contain its emissions through a comprehensive programme of technical and operational measures, backed up by its proposed incorporation into the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. “I have news for the Belgian Government”, he said; “aviation is already pursuing far greater environmental gains than this tax could possibly deliver. If it really wants to help the environment, it should throw its political weight behind the creation of a Single European Sky so we can begin to save some of the 16 million tonnes of CO2 emitted needlessly each year through airspace inefficiencies”.

“Let us be absolutely clear”, said Mr Schulte-Strathaus; “this is another burden on the Belgian taxpayer and Belgian business. €132 million does not just materialise, it comes out of the pockets of people who already pay Europe’s highest taxes – people who are worried about the security of their savings and investments, and the increasing prices they are having to pay for energy, food and fuel. Travel is a quality-of-life amenity which, in difficult times, takes an extra significance in personal spending decisions. It would be a very unfriendly act indeed to extract still more tax revenue when consumer and business confidence – in Belgium and worldwide – is at such a low ebb”.

For further information, please contact:
Françoise Humbert, General Manager Communications
Phone: +32(0) 2 639 89 93 – Email: francoise.humbert@aea.be

Note to the Editor: The Association of European Airlines (AEA) brings together 35 European established service and scheduled network carriers. These collectively carry 380 million passengers and 7 million tonnes of cargo each year, operating 2,660 aircraft serving 615 destinations in 165 countries with 11,865 flights a day. They provide around 426,000 jobs directly, and generate a total turnover of €79 billion.

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