LONDON: The opposition Conservative Party announced today its decision of proposing new taxes on air travel, in an attempt to fight global warming, much to the chagrin of both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, who were vocal in their criticism and non acceptance of the idea.
George Osborne, a top party official, said they would try to slow the growth of air travel and thereby reduce the amount of greenhouse gases being emitted by airlines using Britain’s airports, which were some of the world’s busiest.
Osborne publicly discussed the proposals on Sunday after leaked copies of the Tories’ environmental plan appeared in British newspapers.
The party, which called Britain’s current aviation taxation system seriously flawed, said it was considering a range of proposals including a preflight passenger tax, fuel tax on airlines, tax that would encourage airlines to use fuel-efficient engines and tax on frequent flyers.
Such plans may raise tax bills of airlines and businesses, but the Conservatives plan to offset higher public tax bills by lowering other taxes that residents pay.
Proposed measures were also not intended to hit people enjoying their annual holiday abroad and would instead target frequent fliers.
In the party’s “Greener Skies” paper, Osborne said, “I believe the case for acting now to reduce future growth in greenhouse gas emissions from aviation is compelling. In particular, air passenger duty is not directly linked to carbon emissions and provides no incentives for airlines to use more fuel-efficient aircraft.”
Tony Blair plans to step down as prime minister later this year. He is expected to be replaced by the governing Labour Party’s Treasury chief, Gordon Brown. The next national election is expected in 2009 and Labour and the Conservatives are expected to make the battle against climate change a campaign issue.
According to Virgin Atlantic, “green” taxes had already been proven “not to work” and that bringing in a “per flight” tax could cause grievous harm to UK’s economy.
“Taxing passengers has failed as a means of reducing growth in emissions. We would urge Conservatives to consider encouraging the aviation industry to invest in technology which will deliver lighter and cleaner planes and fossil-free fuels,” said Virgin spokesman Paul Charles.
They also felt that taxation is an extremely blunt instrument in reducing carbon emissions.