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France to increase tax on plane tickets to fund railways

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France to increase tax on plane tickets to fund railways
Photo by Eric PIERMONT / AFP

France's transport minister has announced that the country's next budget will include an increase in taxes on airline tickets, with the money going to fund investment in railways.

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Transport minister Clément Beaune on Monday told the radio station RMC that the 2024 budget would include an increase on the tax levied on air fares - although he gave no detail on how big the increase would be.

"Many people tell us that they are shocked that, often, the plane costs less than the train. We need more investment in the railways", he said.

"In the 2024 budget, we are going to increase the tax on airline tickets that already exists - not for the pleasure of taxing, but so that investment in the trains can be financed."

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Debates on the 2024 budget will begin once the French parliament returns in September.

The cost of plane tickets in France has included a tax surcharge since 2005 - known as the Chirac tax after the president who introduced it. In 2020 this was increased to €3 per economy class ticket and €18 per business or first class ticket. 

Beaune also said that a proposed EU-wide measure on increasing taxes on airline fuel are "moving forward", but added that member states need to be unanimous as "there is no point in having a tax on airline fuel in France if you don't have it in Germany or Italy".

Recent research from Greenpeace shows that across Europe, flights are routinely cheaper than train journeys along the same route, something that discourages travellers from opting for the less environmentally damaging option.

Greenpeace compared the cost of flight and train tickets on 112 routes in the European Union, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Norway, at 9 different times. Some 94 of these routes were international and 18 were domestic.

Trains were more expensive in almost all cases, although the analysis found that on 23 routes going by rail was cheaper than flying at most times.

READ ALSO On which popular European routes is train travel cheaper than flying?

In 2021, France banned domestic flights if the journey could be done by train in two-and-a-half hours or less. 

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