Air travel tax 'political posturing': industry chief

25th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

GENEVA, Nov 25 (AFP) - The head of the world's top airline association on Friday blasted French government plans for a tax on air travel to finance aid for poor countries, calling it "political posturing".

GENEVA, Nov 25 (AFP) - The head of the world's top airline association on Friday blasted French government plans for a tax on air travel to finance aid for poor countries, calling it "political posturing".

"Not only is the French government misguided in understanding the needs of the developing world, it does not even have a grip on what is going on in its own backyard," Giovanni Bisignani, director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said in a statement.

The proposed "solidarity tax" of one to 40 euros on each ticket was approved by the French cabinet this week.

France's president Jacques Chirac, who has championed the idea in international meetings in recent years, said on Thursday that draft legislation would be put before parliament within weeks.

The IATA, which groups 265 major airlines, suggested that French authorities would be better advised to tackle the impact of the European Union's farm subsidy and support system on poor nations.

"If France is truly interested in solving the problems of developing nations, it should start by eliminating the problems that it creates. The tax is political posturing to divert attention from France's failure to take down trade barriers that limit access to its markets," he added.

The EU is under pressure to make further cuts in its farm tariffs and subsidies in global trade talks that are largely aimed at opening up markets for trade form developing countries.

French farmers have been prime beneficiaries of the system and the French government has in recent weeks opposed proposals for deep cuts.

Bisignani said that airlines and their passengers already made a "net contribution of EUR 726 million" to France through "excessive aviation taxes and charges".

The IATA chief said airlines carried tourists to their destinations and goods to markets.

"Making air travel more expensive is akin to biting the very hand that feeds development," said Bisignani.

IATA has repeatedly criticised the impact of existing landing and airport handling fees, amid a sharp rise in fuel prices that has helped plunge many carriers deep into financial trouble.

Other European countries have been lukewarm about the tax and the United States is strongly opposed to the proposal.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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