European Air Pricing to Soar

Air travelers flying within Europe will likely be charged nearly $75 dollars more for a one-way flight within the 25 member states of the European Union, under a plan approved by the European Parliament. That body voted in favor of the immediate introduction of a tax on jet fuel, almost doubling the cost of millions of flights, many of them budget flights where the tax itself might even exceed the fare. The parliament also voted to accept a recommendation for airlines to buy permits to cover their output of carbon dioxide. Aviation is a source of greenhouse gases, and flights within Europe are set to double by 2020. European airlines had lobbied vigorously for a less onerous plan that would compensate the European Union for only a small portion of aircraft emissions and cost the average passenger less than $3.25 per flight. But the lobbying failed. Parliament also wants the taxes to cover all flights arriving at or departing from EU airports rather than just intra-EU flights, as had been proposed by British Airways. But for now, the tax is likely going to be limited to flights within Europe to avoid legal challenges from the United States and other countries. Airlines have vehemently objected to the parliament's plans, and easyJet called the taxation "punitive," noting the low-fare carriers efficiently fly point to point, use less congested airports and fly with higher seat density and load factors. The Association of European Airlines said that combined the measures will have a small impact on the environment but a very big impact on the social and economic situation in Europe.