The French government has unveiled plans to tax those flying from the country’s airports. According to transport minister Elisabeth Borne, the move is expected to raise around €180m annually upon its introduction next year. “We have decided to put in place an eco-tax on all flights from France,” she announced.
While criticised by airlines and some business groups, the French levy will be relatively modest, particularly when compared to the UK’s Air Passenger Duty (APD).
The new tax will be €1.50 for domestic or European Union flights, rising to €3 for services beyond the EU. Business class passengers will have to pay a further premium; charged either €9 or €18, depending on their destination. The primary exceptions to the rules are transit flights and those flying to Corsica or overseas French overseas departments and territories. Passengers arriving into France will not have to pay an additional fee.
For comparison, a passenger on a commercial economy fare from Manchester to Dubai pays £78 (€86.77) in UK APD, with this due to rise to £80 from April 1, 2020. Meanwhile business class travellers from London to New York are typically charged £172 (€191.33), increasing to £176 (€195.78) from April next year. It is estimated that the UK Treasury brings in more than £3bn a year from the controversial levy.
At a press conference held on July 9, Borne said the money raised by the tax will be invested into lower-carbon means of travel, such as rail.
While environmental groups have generally welcomed the move, some have argued that the new charges do not go far enough to combat carbon pollution generated by the aviation sector.
Air France is likely to be the carrier most affected by the tax, with the flag carrier stating it will damage its competitiveness and could represent an addition cost of €60m each year. Its shares were down 5.2% in the hours following the announcement, with Ryanair down 4.7% and easyJet 4% lower.