France, Europe Eyes Heavy Taxes Or Bans On Private Jets

France has been battling scorching fires and severe drought all summer and as the government heads back to work after the break, private jets are being increasingly targeted as a means of reducing carbon emissions—President Macron and Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne asked ministers to come up “concrete proposals” for the situation, as reported by Le Monde.

These plans could involve bans or severe taxes on the private aviation sector—and as France is the number one visited country in the world, any changes here will be far-reaching.

A “remarkable” summer for French tourism

It’s been a good summer for France’s tourist sector. France’s Tourist Minister, Olivia Gregoire announced that early figures showed visitor figures had been “remarkable” and possibly even “historic”.

Within the data, there is a clear picture of winners and losers. Le Bourget airport near Paris reported that the number of current flights is reaching pre-pandemic levels. As reported by Bloomberg, the airport is one of the main places that private jets land in France.

Across France, figures reported in The Conversation showed that Airbnb rebounded better than hotels. And whilst the traditional hotspots of southern coastal cities such as Nice and Cannes were helped by returning visitors from the U.S. and the Gulf, it was the more remote regions and hinterlands that garnered more tourist visits. Thus suggesting post-pandemic visitors have been in search for more rural, authentic and private spots than before.

Private jets could be an easy win

British digital marketing firm Yard recently released its study analysing the use of private planes around the world, tracked by automated flight tracker Celebrity Jets. As reported in Newsweek, Taylor Swift came in at number one having taken 170 flights—which would have emitted 8,293 metric tons of greenhouse gases.

And when most people are suffering from an increased cost of living, particularly in relation to food and energy costs, private jets are seen by politicians to be an easier target to help reduce carbon emissions.

France likely to first tax private jets, not ban

French Transport Minister Clement Beaune told a a France 2 TV interview that “I believe that at a national or European level, we could think about either taxation or regulation systems. It’s clear that habits will have to change.”

Reported by Bloomberg, Beaune added that “I believe that when there’s a train alternative, when there’s a commercial flight — which emit four times less carbon per passenger than private jets, that should be the preferred option.”

France recently outlawed many short-haul flights if there are such train alternatives.

Calls for banning private jets are growing

Environmental groups across Europe are making increasing noise for private jets to be banned completely:

  • Julien Bayou, national secretary of Europe Ecologie-Les Verts (EELV) told Franceinfo on Sunday 21 August, as reported in Le Monde, that it was time to “ban” private jets because “a jet pollutes ten times more than a plane”.
  • As part of the European Union (EU) climate plan, Brussels is already planning a tax on private jets across the region. At the moment, private jets are exempt from kerosene tax but it is envisaging 38 euro cents per liter of kerosene burned.

Beaune told journalists that private jets will very much be on the agenda in October when European transport ministers next meet.

One way or another, it seems something will be done to curb the use of private jets across Europe moving into 2023.

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