Airline ticket taxes are set to increase next year in France, according to comments this week from the French Transport Minister.
Clément Beaune told RMC (Radio Monte-Carlo) on Monday 7 August that 2024’s budget would involve a “reinforcement” of existing air travel taxation. Making the argument in favour of further taxation on air travel, the Minister said the measure would not be “just for the fun of taxing people” but would ease the country’s green transition by helping to redistribute money towards more sustainable transport options, as well as addressing people’s concerns over the cost of train travel.
It will allow us to finance investment in trains. Many people tell us that they are shocked that flying is often cheaper than travelling by train. We need more investment in rail.Clément Beaune, French Transport Minister
He assured listeners that increasing taxes on plane tickets was not only “fairer” but also “necessary from an environmental point of view.”
This year France made headlines around the world by introducing a ban on domestic flights where a train route of under 2.5 hours exists as an alternative. The law was so controversial it was contested by the Union of French Airports (UAF) as well as the European branch of the Airports Council International (ACI Europe) and triggered an investigation by the European Commission.
The ban eventually went ahead and was supposed to rule out air trips between Paris Orly airport and regional hubs such as Nantes, Lyon and Bordeaux. But, as Aviation24 notes, the new law contained “so many exceptions that only three domestic routes were cancelled.”
This summer, in an effort to make train travel more accessible and attractive, France’s national rail operator, SNCF, launched price offers for young people and other groups of travellers. Looking ahead to next year, Beaune expressed ambitions to take this further, with the creation of “a travel pass, especially for young people, for unlimited, lower-cost tickets.”
Earlier this year France also introduced a drive share initiative branded the “covoit plan”. It’s estimated the scheme has more than halved short distance journeys, as well as averting over 25,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions and saving over 8 million litres of petrol.
Nonetheless, Beaune acknowledged that one country alone cannot be the change the whole world needs to take on global warming. On the subject of pan-European action to tax kerosene, he remarked: “Progress is being made, but there’s no point having a tax on kerosene in France if you don’t also have it in Germany or Italy.”
He pointed out however that for European countries to tackle kerosene tax together, they would all need to reach collective agreement on the environmental reasoning and shared responsibility involved. Beaune positioned France as a lead actor in that debate.