Travel Industry Unites to Fight Aviation Tax

Following the G8 summit
last week, travel industry associations are continuing their united opposition
to a proposed new aviation tax to fund development in poor countries.  The
group says aid for developing countries is laudable, but funding it through a
new tax on aviation is misguided and counterproductive.Airports Council International, the Asia Pacific Travel Retail
Association, the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, the Duty Free World
Council, the International Air Transport Association, the Pacific Asia Travel
Association, and the Tax Free World Association jointly denounce the taxation
proposal.
  The group says any additional tax would decrease airline efficiencies and
reduce demand for travel and tourism, which is a major driver of economic
development in many poor countries.
  The travel industry also believes the proposal would put an unnecessary
burden on the travel sector, in particular airlines, which have sustained
billion dollar losses over the past four years and must now absorb record-
breaking oil prices.
  The Pacific Asia Travel Association Chairman Mr Nobutaka Ishikure
(pictured above, who is also Japan Airlines Chief industry Affairs Officer), said: “We must
remind governments that airlines are not under-taxed, but are over-charged.
Airlines play a critical role as a catalyst for economic development.
Development is a serious issue in need of a serious solution.  More tax on air
travel is not the way forward.”
  IATA Director General and CEO Mr Giovanni Bisignani slammed the proposal,
which has divided the governments of Europe.  He said: “We are not an industry
of millionaire customers able to travel at any price.  Air transport is an
essential part of the fabric of modern life.  If governments are truly serious
about development, there are glaring opportunities to generate billions for
aid simply by removing trade barriers.”
  Travel industry research shows that, with related industries, the air
transport sector supports US$1.4 trillion of economic output, or 4.5% of
global GDP.
  The US Chamber of Commerce head office in Washington DC and the Geneva-
based Air Transport Action Group have also vehemently opposed the aviation tax
proposal.
  ACI Director Mr Robert J Aaronson said: “Airports are catalysts for
economic development by creating jobs, encouraging new business development
and building capacity to underpin travel, trade and tourism.  Airports have
demonstrated their long-term commitment to relevant assistance for developing
nations.”
  Mr Aaronson cited the ACI Fund which finances training for airport
personnel to ensure a self-reliant and skilled aviation work force in
developing markets.  “This is a targeted contribution that is far more
meaningful than a new tax,” he said.
  AAPA Director General, Mr Andrew Herman, said: “Aviation’s significant
contributions to overall economic development is more widely understood in the
Asia Pacific region.  Governments should be creating economic opportunities,
not imposing barriers in the form of new taxes.”
  The travel associations opposing the proposed tax believe that development
needs commitment, not political grandstanding and that air transport needs
common-sense policy and a level playing field, not more taxation.
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