Statistics show that airlines have cut average emissions per passenger journey in half compared to 1990.

Alexandre de Juniac has said European governments are “picking the wrong fight” in choosing to tax airlines citing environmental concerns.

Speaking at Wings of Change Europe in Berlin, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General and CEO said governments should work together with aviation to help create a sustainable industry.

Many European countries impose environmental taxes on passengers, but IATA says such methods do little to reduce emissions.

The air transport industry continues to invest heavily in aircraft efficiency, has committed to reduce total emissions to half 2005 levels by 2050, and is offsetting emissions from 2020 through the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) scheme.

Taxation is a crude and inefficient method for covering environmental costs. And it picks a fight with the wrong enemy

Commenting on proposals in Germany that would double the taxation on passengers, de Juniac said “the goal must not be to make flying unaffordable” but rather to help people fly in a way that aligns with environmental concerns.

“Neither should [the goal] be to cripple industry and tourism which creates jobs and drives development,” said de Juniac. “Flying is not the enemy—it is carbon.”

“Taxation is a crude and inefficient method for covering environmental costs. And it picks a fight with the wrong enemy. 

“Government policies should aim to help people fly sustainably,” said de Juniac.

IATA’s Director General and CEO also highlighted the importance of air transport in facilitating European integration, as Berlin continues to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Aviation in Europe has grown since then to the extent that the continent is currently connected by 23,400 daily flights, and serves one billion passengers annually.

De Juniac said that governments should continue along the path with “the same spirit of optimism that forged the new Europe 30 years ago” and added that airlines have cut average emissions per passenger journey in half compared to 1990.

In addition, challenges facing the industry such as capacity issues, increasing airport costs and inefficient airspace management will require a collaborative effort from various stakeholders.

“This shows that—despite the European Aviation Strategy—we still have a lot of work to do to ensure that governments work with the industry in partnership for the greater goal: an efficient and sustainably connected Europe,” de Juniac said.

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