Introduce a Frequent Flyer Levy
A Frequent Flyer Levy would discourage people from taking multiple flights in one year, reducing emissions and addressing a major inequality in our transport system.
A UK-wide Frequent Flyer Levy is likely to be simplest and most efficient. However, Scotland is due to control Air Departure Tax (ADT), the Scottish replacement for Air Passenger Duty. There will be bands within the Duty for different distances of flights. The same power could potentially be used to introduce a Frequent Flyer Levy, through or replacing ADT.
While the current Air Passenger Duty (APD) levies a charge per flight, an additional Frequent Flyer Levy on top of the new ADT could be used to disincentive people from taking multiple flights in a given year. A Frequent Flyer Levy recognises the inequality built into aviation – for domestic flights, 90% are taken by just 2% of the UK population and nine out of ten people never take one.194 This policy would not penalise a family taking the occasional holiday but would discourage those who fly regularly. 78% of Scotland’s Climate Assembly members supported the introduction of a frequent flyer tax or levy.195
Aviation emissions are not only a substantial portion of overall transport emissions but, until COVID, they were rising year-on-year, with no measures at all to curb this. The additional revenue should be spent on sustainable surface transport options, which could lead to further emissions decreases from private car use.
Consideration would be needed on appropriate exemptions to a Frequent Flyer Levy, for instance for those island communities that depend on flights for lifeline services196 and for those less able to undertake alternative journeys. A well-designed levy would strongly deliver on the Polluter Pays Principle.
For further information:
- Financing Climate Justice, https://www.stopclimatechaos.scot/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/ FinancingClimateJustice_Report_ONLINE.pdf
- Aviation Strategy response, Transform Scotland, 2022, https://transform.scot/wp-content/ uploads/2022/01/Aviation-Strategy-discussion-paper-Transform-Scotland-2022-01-21-1.pdf
- A frequent flyer levy – sharing aviation’s carbon budget in a net-zero world, New Economics Foundation, 2021, https://neweconomics.org/2021/07/a-frequent-flyer-levy
- Stay Grounded home page: https://stay-grounded.org
Frequent flyers: 90% of domestic flights taken by 2% of people, according to new research, Independent, November 2021, https://www. independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/frequent-flyers-domestic-flights-uk-b1954900.html
Scotland’s Climate Assembly Recommendations for Action, 2021 https://www.involve.org.uk/sites/default/files/uploads/docuemnt/ Scotland%27s%20Climate%20Assembly%20Recommendations%20for%20Action.WebVersion%20%282%29%20%282%29.pdf
Lifeline air services, Transport Scotland, undated, https://www.transport.gov.scot/public-transport/air-travel/lifeline-air-services/