For the past 75 years, the air transport industry has profited from a major tax exemption: on international flights, aviation fuel is not taxed. This must change. There is no reason why vehicle fuel should be taxed on the ground, but not in the air. Canada needs to propose that the ICAO establish fair taxation for international flights, and to implement corresponding measures for domestic flights. These taxes should be much higher for tickets in business and first class, as compared to economy class. Taxes for domestic flights could be waived entirely for remote indigenous communities not connected by road to the rest of the country.
The taxation system must be designed to dissuade people from flying. A feasible solution would be to adjust the tax rate in accordance with the number of flights a passenger takes over the course of a year. As such, the taxation rate could be increased when passengers purchase a second ticket within one year, and increased again for a third ticket, etc. Frequent flyers would in this way be taxed more significantly, compared to occasional travellers such as middle-class families.
Moratorium on airports
Canada, as well as the other Member States of the ICAO, must also impose a moratorium on new airport construction, as well as on the expansion of existing airports, except in rare cases. Construction and expansion allow the aviation sector to grow when it should be shrinking, and threatens the health and safety of neighbouring residents.
In 2017, globally, construction was approved or already underway for 423 new airports, as well as for 121 additional runways at existing airports. Aéroports de Montréal intends to invest $2.5 billion to build a new terminal at Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, equipped with 10 to 15 new gates, in order to meet increasing demand. Meanwhile the Montréal/Saint-Hubert Airport wants to build a new runway for Boeing 737s and Airbus A220/320s, to allow for international aviation.
The Climate Aviation Coalition demands a massive reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the air transport sector in order to prevent a catastrophic level of global warming. Science tells us that only an immediate and major reduction in the number of flights will allow us to achieve this objective. The coalition intends to bring its message particularly to the federal government and affected municipalities. The coalition will continue to work on this dossier throughout the coming months, to ensure that everything possible is done to rein in the aviation industry, which is currently flying high on a free pass to pollute the atmosphere – and which is putting our future at risk.