ATA: U.S. Airlines Not a Piggy Bank for Developing Nations

The Air Transport Association of America (ATA), the industry trade group, urged climate negotiators to oppose an "exorbitant" new climate change tax to be imposed on the airlines and their passengers. The so-called International Air Passenger Adaption Levy would single out aviation to raise $10 billion per year for climate-change projects to be built in developing countries, the ATA said.

"The proposed tax would unfairly and unreasonably target one industrial sector, a sector that has a tremendous fuel and greenhouse gas efficiency record, to the detriment of the economy," said ATA President and CEO James C. May. "We should not be considered a piggy bank for developing countries.

"Even though the U.S. airlines account for less than 2 percent of the U.S. greenhouse gas inventory, we are committed to doing more," May continued, "However, this hefty new tax would be counterproductive, siphoning away to the developing countries the very funds that the U.S. airlines need to continue to invest in new aircraft, retrofits, alternative fuel and other upgrades critical to the airlines’ environmental performance and the U.S. economy."

ATA wrote to the U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change, Todd Stern, urging the United States to strongly oppose this steep tax on international air travel. In its letter, ATA urged the United States to oppose the tax and instead to support the industry’s proactive proposal for a global, sectoral approach to aviation and climate change.

The ATA noted that U.S. airlines improved their fuel efficiency by approximately 110 percent between 1978 and 2008, saving 2.7 billion metric tons of CO2 – roughly equivalent to taking 19.5 million cars off the road each of those years.