France Will Soon Charge Ecotax On Most Flights

Tickets originating in France will carry a new fee between $1.70 and $20, which will help fund eco-friendly infrastructure like train networks.

French officials announced a new “ecotax” on Tuesday for nearly all flights departing from the country beginning in 2020.

Elizabeth Borne, France’s transportation minister, said the measure comes amid a time of “ecological urgency,” per a translation of her announcement by NPR.

“With the eco-contribution, air transport will play its part in financing the daily transport of all our citizens,” Borne said.

The tax will vary depending on the type of ticket purchased and range from about $1.70 to $20. Domestic flights will incur a smaller fee than international, and business class tickets will be charged more than economy. Flights that land in France or simply transit through will not be taxed.

The move is expected to raise nearly $200 million, which will then be used to invest in environmentally-friendly infrastructure, including train networks. According to the Air Transport Action Group, the aviation industry accounts for about 2 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The plan has already drawn sharp criticism from the travel industry. In a statement, Air France said the move would cost its business more than $67 million per year and be “extremely penalizing.”

“France is one of the countries with the most heavily-taxed air transport industry in Europe,” the company stated. “The government’s decision is all the more incomprehensible as this new air transport tax would reportedly finance competitive modes of transport including road transportation and not the energy transition in the air transport sector. Such a transition could have been facilitated by supporting the implementation of sustainable biofuel industries or disruptive innovations.”

Borne said the taxes will not negatively impact French airlines and that the plan had been crafted so as not to disadvantage them compared to other carriers.

Several other European countries already have similar ticket taxes, including Germany, which adds about $13 for local or European Union destinations. The tax rises to more than $50 for some distant destinations.