Ryanair has suggested that a tax on kerosene could ensure a “level playing field” over the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) and the various national environmental taxes coming into place across the continent.

“A tax on kerosene has merit as long as there are no exclusions, not for any airline, [or] for any kind of flight – connecting or long-haul or airport,” Ryanair CMO Kenny Jacobs told a press briefing in Belgium.

Jacobs called on the European Commission to look at the aviation industry in a “sensible” way as the sector contributes only 2.5 to 3 percent of global CO2 emissions. “Aviation is not the worst culprit among all modes of transport,” he added. The president-elect of the EC, Ursula von der Leyen, wants a climate-neutral Europe by mid-century and has defined the European Green Deal as a key priority for the next five years.

“Any aviation taxation that is being considered by Brussels needs to create a level playing field and needs to encourage the right behaviour. The goal is a reduction of CO2 on every flight,” Jacobs said.

A tax on kerosene would achieve that aim, he suggested, adding that it would encourage the use of newer aircraft, which use less kerosene and produce less CO2. “All airlines should embrace it,” he said. Although he agreed that he would be surprised if all European carriers would view the kerosene tax as the right approach to replace the EU ETS. Jacobs described both the EU ETS and the French and Dutch environmental tax proposals as “flawed”, the first because it excludes long-haul flights and the second because it excludes connecting flights.  He continued: “There would be an eco-tax on a direct Ryanair flight from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Brussels but a connecting flight from Dublin over Amsterdam to Brussels would be exempt while producing more CO2. How does this make sense?”

“We are not deflecting our responsibility. Aviation needs to do more, is doing more to reduce its environmental impact,” he said, so reaffirming Ryanair’s ongoing environmental commitment.

“Ryanair is opposed to any taxes given that we will already pay €630m in environmental taxes this year,” the airline stressed. “If any new taxes are being considered they need to ensure there is a level playing field without exclusions for connecting flights or long-haul flights.”

This story has been updated to reflect an amendment in the headline. 

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