The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has criticised proposals by the Liberal Democrats to introduce a ‘per flight’ aviation tax. FTA believes such a levy misunderstands the important role that air freight plays in the movement of goods in and out the UK, and would unfairly penalise the aviation industry and the consumers, businesses and producers that rely on it.
Jo Tanner of the FTA said:
"While we commend Mr Clegg’s desire to reduce aviation’s carbon footprint, we urge him to consider the positive aspects of air freight. Not only is it responsible for a quarter of the value of all goods moved in and out of the UK, but it also provides farmers in the developing world with an opportunity to sell their produce."
Air freight services are a key ingredient in the UK economy, responsible for much of the coffee, flowers, fruit and vegetables that find their way onto our shelves. It also allows poor countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia to generate a major source of revenue. Any move to reduce European markets for produce from developing countries would deal a heavy blow to their economies.
Rather than acting as an environmental measure, a ‘per flight’ or ‘per plane’ aviation tax would simply put the UK at a competitive disadvantage to airports in European countries that do not impose a tax on air freight.
"Aviation is truly a global activity – the UK acting alone will not change aviation, but merely disadvantage our economy and restrict the trade options for emerging economies in China and those in developing countries. If the UK taxes air freight, businesses will simply switch to the continent, reducing the level of service and increasing costs in the UK."
The incorporation of aviation into the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme could represent the most effective tool for managing the environmental impacts of aviation. However, FTA warns that any subsequent discussion must be done with air cargo interests at the forefront of consideration.