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A minimum price for flights in Europe, if enacted, could help lead to a reduction in airlines' carbon emissions. But France's proposal faces an uphill climb to becoming a reality, especially with several destinations' tourism industries being dependent on low-cost flights.

France will seek support from other European Union countries for a minimum price on flights in Europe, in a bid to reduce the aviation sector’s contribution to climate change, Transport Minister Clement Beaune has said.

The move, if approved, would hit airlines offering super-cheap fares. But it may struggle to win sufficient support among EU countries, which include island nations that rely on air transport, and regions with tourism sectors buoyed by low-cost flights.

France’s aim is to “open the debate on the fair social and environmental price of a flight ticket,” Beaune said in written comments.

“It’s not a question of multiplying by ten the price of tickets. Why? Because there are also people who take a plane once in their life, who don’t have much money – it’s also a freedom, a means of transportation that can’t be reserved for only the rich,” he said.

EU officials told Reuters countries including the Netherlands and Belgium support the idea in principle. Austria had previously proposed a minimum price, but faced legal complexities to take it forward, EU officials said.

“I think it’s a discussion we have to have at EU level,” Beaune said.

Winning broader support could prove challenging. Talks among EU countries on a proposal to tax polluting aviation fuel have hit an impasse, with some governments opposed to passing measures that could raise prices for voters ahead of EU elections next year.

The EU has some measures in place to curb the environmental impact of flying. European flights will pay a higher price for their CO2 emissions in the next few years, under the EU carbon market.

A minimum ticket price could disrupt the business model of carriers like Ryanair, Europe’s biggest airline, which offers super low-cost fares on some routes within Europe.

Ryanair closed its two-aircraft base at Brussels’ Zaventem airport during last winter, blaming increased charges and taxes, after Belgium introduced a 10-euro tax per passenger on flights shorter than 500km, and a 2-euro levy per departing passenger on EU routes.

Departing flights made up around 5% of Europe’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2019, the year before the COVID-19 pandemic slashed air traffic, according to the EU Aviation Safety Agency.

(Reporting by Kate Abnett, additional reporting by Joanna Plucinska, Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

This article was written by Kate Abnett from Reuters and was legally licensed through the DiveMarketplace by Industry Dive. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].


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Tags: climate change, europe, france, sustainability

Photo credit: French authorities are pushing for a minimum prices for flights in Europe. Reuters

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