ICAO and UNWTO renew fight against taxation

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The ICAO and the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) have signed a joint statement vowing to fight for fairer taxation policies in the aviation industry, renewing a call on governments to back down on regulation of the sector.

The two United Nations agencies inked the statement today in Montreal at the 6th ICAO Air Transport Conference, which takes place once every decade.

Government taxation policies, a perpetual concern among airlines worldwide, is a key priority area of the co-operation between the ICAO and UNWTO as outlined in the joint statement.

The aviation industry generated more than $2 trillion in economic activity worldwide but the world's airlines only earned $6.7 billion in net revenues last year, says ICAO secretary general Raymond Benjamin.

"ICAO's states and the operator community must resolve their serious competition, taxation and market access challenges to ensure more dependable and fair profitability across our sector, not to mention better price transparency for passengers," he adds.

UNWTO secretary general Taleb Rifai emphasises that the joint statement is not against taxation, saying that taxes are "a fact of life".

However, he points out that the aviation and travel industry is one of the few that are growing in a struggling economy. "We must not kill the goose that lays the golden egg," says Rifai.

Taxes must be fair, equitable and transparent, and should be re-invested in ways that will benefit the industry, say both agencies.

The joint statement also called for consistent international passenger protection rules. For example, a passenger travelling from the European Union on a non-European carrier should not be subject to different sets of passenger protection regulations, says Rifai.