250,000 demand end to scandal of Europe’s airline subsidies, tax exemptions and night flights

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Source: Transport and Environment (T&E)

T&E distributes this release on behalf of the Taming Aviation coalition. Photos of the event can be downloaded here.

A ground-breaking coalition of 140 groups representing 250,000 citizens from 10 European countries has, for the first time, called on the EU to end commercial airlines’ tax exemptions and subsidies and phase out night flights. The Taming Aviation coalition formally presented its demands in a petition to the European Parliament in Brussels today.

The petition, presented to the Parliament Petitions Committee chair Cecilia Wikström and Green MEP Keith Taylor, calls for an end to the absurd situation where European governments miss out on €40 billion every year because commercial airlines pay no tax on fuel and are exempt from VAT. [1] It also demands action to reduce aircraft noise, which poses serious health risks to people living under flight paths including increasing the risk of dying of a heart attack by up to 50%. [2]

23 national delegates from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and the UK were present at the event. The citizens’ coalition has highlighted the disparity where consumers, small businesses and hauliers pay an average of 48 cent in tax per litre [3] while commercial airlines in the EU don’t pay a cent in tax to fuel their planes.

Cash-strapped EU governments are missing out on this important revenue source, so European taxpayers must step in to fill the deficit. This subsidising is fuelling air traffic growth, with aviation’s greenhouse gas emissions expected to increase 300% by 2050. [4]

Dr Susanne Heger, initiator of the Taming Aviation coalition, said: “With air passenger numbers set to grow 4% a year for the next 20 years, the aviation sector can well afford to pay its way. EU governments continuing to allow commercial airlines to free ride to the tune of €40 billion a year with tax exemptions while their night flights pose serious health risks is nothing short of a scandal.” [5]

The petition is also in response to growing recognition of the health risks posed by night flights. Citizens living under certain flight paths are exposed to daily average noise levels of at least 60 decibels and consequently are up to 50% more at risk of dying of a heart attack, according to a study by the University of Bern. [6] Up to 200,000 people living under London’s Heathrow flight paths are exposed to this increased risk as they experience noise averaging over 60 decibels.

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for South East England, said: “Why should aviation be excused from paying tax, especially in view of its environmental damage? It should pay VAT and excise duty just like all other transport methods, so that all the costs of flying are properly accounted for.”

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