French minister attacks frequent flyers, cheap flights in bid to raise prices

The Transport Minister of France Clément Beaune has announced his desperate intention to kickstart discussions concerning the environmental and social expenses linked to air travel.

France is reaching out to fellow EU nations to garner their backing for implementing a minimum flight price, aimed at curbing carbon emissions within the aviation sector.

The nation’s objective is to”open the debate on the fair social and environmental price of a flight ticket,” as stated by minister.

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

Earlier this year, Beaune initially suggested the concept of eliminating ultra-low-cost airfares.

He claimed he had plans to combat social and environmental exploitation and remarked that €10 plane tickets are no longer viable, specifically addressing the affordability of low-cost airline fares.

The Sudan Times was unable to find any tickets for the price of €10 from any airline or ticket seller, cheapest being 4-5 times the price the French minister claims.

Beaune added that a mega-low ticket price “doesn’t reflect the price for the planet.”

However, French minister did not explain how more expansive flights would be a solution to reducing aviation’s carbon footprint.

Frequent air travelers bear a disproportionate responsibility for emissions.

“Anything that makes airlines pay a fair share of the environmental cost that they create is a good thing”, says Jon Worth, travel expert and founder of Trains for Europe campaign.

“But we should be dealing with frequent flyers and this does not deal with them. It might reduce nice city weekends for some people but it’s not going to stop or reduce this regular flying elite.”

In France, a mere 2 percent of the population accounts for half of all flights, as revealed by research conducted by the climate advocacy organization Possible. Similarly, in the United Kingdom, 15 percent of Britons are responsible for 70 percent of flights, while in the Netherlands, 8 percent of the population takes 42 percent of flights.

In a 2014 European survey, it was found that 37 percent of Europeans have never ventured beyond their own country. While this statistic doesn’t directly pertain to air travel, it provides insight into the extent of air travel among Europeans.

Will Beaune’s proposal garner support from EU member countries?

Beaune is actively seeking the backing of other EU nations to implement a minimum flight price, but France may face challenges in convincing other countries to support this initiative.

“It’s a very typical French move, a very Macron move. Tactically speaking, it’s not the best way”, Worth says.

“Germany won’t be very keen because of its liberal transport minister, Spain will maybe be more interested, the Netherlands too, apart from them, it’s hard to say.”

This proposal is unlikely to resonate with island nations heavily dependent on air transportation or regions where the tourism sector significantly thrives on budget-friendly flights.

Ryanair’s chief executive has vehemently opposed comparable measures, likening such actions to”North Korea-like rate control,” like when Austria announced its intention in June 2020 to prevent airfares from falling below the actual taxes and fees, equating to an average of €40 per flight in the country.

“I think that [plane ticket] price controls are worthy of North Korea’s economy,” Edward Wilson said.

Experts and analysts fear that the French transport minister is seeking publicity rather than real change.

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