To fly, to tax

Another level of government sponsored mayhem is about to hit the flying public. As if the current round of preflight belt/ shoes/ coat removal and then the interrogation and search for liquids were not enough, the Chancellor has now seen fit to double the passenger air tax – at short notice and with effect from February 07 – meaning that passengers who booked before the tax was announced will have it collected from them one way or another – possibly at the check in desk.

This tax is supposed to make us pay for being so selfish in our mode of transport and to even up the ‘lightly taxed’ aviation industry.

The Environment Minister (Ian Pearson) recently called Ryanair the ‘irresponsible face of capitalism’, now I am no defender of Ryanair; but what exactly does the minister expect of them, they already operate the most modern fleet they can, are they expected to cease trading?

A few facts:

  • According to the Stern review, aviation generates 1.6% of global emissions
  • Assuming recent growth rates continue this would be 2.5% by 2050
  • Road transport creates 10% of global emissions – now
  • Electricity generation creates 24%
  • Deforestation creates 18% (and half of this from Indonesia and Brazil alone)

Despite these facts the government has been reluctant to invest in green energy production and has delayed decisions on public transport infrastructure projects, which could cut road traffic emissions. It is therefore fair to assume that the increased tax on air travel is simply another cash grab.

Regarding the security levels; whilst most of us accept that this is necessary for our safety there are some ‘opt outs’ available – disguise is apparently acceptable details here… is it me?

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