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Abolish tax advantages for the airline industry


What's the problem?

Even though air traffic is the most climate-damaging form of transportation, the air-traffic-industry benefits from a series of tax advantages. For example, kerosene is excluded from the energy tax and the no value-added tax is levied on international air tickets. According to the Federal Environment Agency, these subsidies amount to more than twelve billion euros annually.


What's the measure?

Introduction of a tax on kerosene and other measures which abolish the existing tax privileges for air traffic.


How can the implementation look like?

The current privileges for air-traffic compared to other transport modes can be abolished throughout different measures. Since the majority of air-traffic takes place across borders, agreements on international level are required in the long run. But since then, actions on national level are possible. The following measures can be elements of an effective taxation:

  • An increase in the air transport levy, the level of which is disproportionate to the current tax advantage for air transport
  • Introduction of a kerosene tax on domestic flights
  • Negotiation of bilateral agreements with European partner countries on kerosene taxation
  • Introduction of a kerosene tax and value-added tax for air travel at EU level. It is important that the level of taxation also takes into account the climate-damaging effects of air travel which, in addition to CO2, are produced by the combustion of aviation fuel (e.g. ozone formation, cirrus clouds and contrails).

How does this counteract climate change?

Significant reduction in air traffic due to more expansive tickets.


Which other effects does the measure have?

Besides the reduction of climate-damaging air traffic, the elimination of these environmentally harmful subsidies generates additional tax revenue. These can be used for the expansion of the train railway net and the public local transport, or flow into international cooperation in the field of climate protection.


How quickly can the measure be implemented?

The taxation on kerosene for national flights is already possible without any problems,  the value-added tax is already levied here. A uniform solution at EU level has so far met with resistance from individual states, but is possible in principle. However, the Federal Government can already enter into bilateral agreements with partner countries on kerosene taxation for flights within the EU. In the meantime, the air traffic tax can be raised accordingly.


References to other measures

In addition to the abolishment of tax advantages for the air industry, a  Vielflieger*innenabgabe (frequent fliers* tax) can be introduced, in order to make frequent fliers* more responsible and mobility more accessible in a just way.


Problems of social, global and intergenerational justice

The implementation of taxes and levies in air-traffic abolishes a core problem of justice in the energy taxation. Studies show, that in Germany and worldwide, the majority of air travelers are frequent fliers* with a high income. However, this sector is widely excluded from taxation, wheres electricity and gasoline are fully taxed.


Further literature and sources


Federal Environment Agency 2016, Umweltschädliche Subventionen in Deutschland 2016

Federal Environment Agency 2019, Umweltschonender Luftverkehr: lokal – national – international
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