Rupert Neate from The Guardian – Reports
Campaign for Better Transport calls on government to make wealthy pay for ‘hugely damaging’ private flights. The super-rich should be forced to pay an extra tax each time they fly on “hugely damaging” private jets to help fund better and cleaner public transport, a charity has said.
The Campaign for Better Transport (CfBT) called on the government to introduce a “super tax” on private jet travel, saying it is “about time that these individuals started paying for the damage their flights cause and the proceeds used to help improve public transport for communities up and down the country”.
The charity said private jets are between five and 14 times more polluting than commercial flights and 50 times more polluting than taking a train. They argue that a “super rate of air passenger duty (APD)” should be applied to account for the damage caused to the planet. The CfBT also called on the government to strip private flights of their current VAT-free status.
“Private jets are hugely damaging to the environment and are the preserve of the super-rich,” said Norman Baker, the CfBT’s director of external affairs and a former Liberal Democrat MP. Currently, private jet passengers are charged the same rate of APD as business or first-class passengers, with a higher rate applied to aircraft of 20 tonnes or more with fewer than 19 passengers onboard.
The campaigners said the new super rate of APD on private jet travel should be set at 10 times the current higher rate for domestic and European trips, which would apply to all private jet passengers, regardless of the size or capacity of the aircraft or distance travelled. They said the tax could raise £1.4bn-a-year – roughly equal to Network Rail’s entire annual maintenance costs.
In addition, CfBT said the government should charge VAT each time a private jet lands or takes off, regardless of size or distance travelled, which would raise a further £79m-£623m. The number of private jets in operation rose by 7% last year and was up 47% on 2020, according to data from the private jet consultancy Wing-X. This contrasts starkly with scheduled passenger airline activity, which remained 35% below pre-pandemic levels.
“With the UK responsible for 19% of Europe’s carbon emissions from private jets – more than any other European country – Campaign for Better Transport is calling on the government to ensure that private jets pay for the pollution they cause and that the money is invested into public transport services,” the charity said. A Treasury spokesperson said: “Since 2017, we have almost doubled transport spending to £27.1bn to help strengthen road and rail connectivity, and from April 2023 air passenger duty will be lower for commercial domestic flights to further bolster links within the UK.
“Larger private jets will not benefit from the new lower domestic duty, and they will also pay more from the new ultra long-haul band on international flights, which ensures that those who fly the furthest contribute the most.”