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IATA AGM: Bisignani slams new German air tax plans

IATA chief executive Giovanni Bisignani has hit out at German plans to introduce a new departures tax aimed at raising €1 billion annually, details of which emerged yesterday.

The German plans came as IATA has been holding its annual general meeting in Berlin, and Bisignani used a press conference at the end of the AGM to slam the plans and its environmental credentials. "This is the worst kind of short-sighted policy irresponsibility. It's a cash-grab by a cash-strapped government. Painting it green adds insult to injury. There will be no environmental benefit from the economic damage caused," says Bisignani. He questions what environmental investments will result from the money raised from the tax, asking: "How many trees will you be planting with this money?

"Climate change is a global issue. The solution requires a global approach, not unco-ordinated regional taxes. What will this do for the environment? Absolutely nothing," he adds. IATA continues to press for a global approach to countering aviation emissions led through ICAO.

With the tax announcemount coming amid a slew of measures by European governments to cut their debts, Bisignani also questions the timing of the move on the economy - especially for Europe's airline sector which is the only region now predicted to remain in the red this year. "The tax will create more problems because it will weaken the economy," he says, and points to the example of the Dutch government rethinking its earlier plans for a similar tax - IATA had argued such a tax would cost the Dutch economy €1.2 billion.

While Lufthansa chief executive Wolfgang Mayrhuber said while it was clear there was a need for countries to tackle the debts problems, he said the question is how to do it without stifling economic growth. He noted that the €1 billion figure was more than German airline collective profits last year. He says the carrier is now studying the details of the proposals, but expects to be "very vocal afterwards".

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