Now airline taxes are killing the world's poor


When historians of the future look back on the 21st century, there a few things more likely to puzzle them than the aviation industry's ability to spin. How, they will wonder, did anyone ever fall for the idea that Air Passenger Duty - which will add £11 to a short haul flight, and by 2011 a pitiful £60 to a flight to Bangkok - was an unjust, ignoble stealth tax?

But for certain facets of the media, this is the greatest outrage yet inflicted on the world. Sod climate change, starving millions and bankers wiping their pampered bottoms with our taxes: charging people a token amount for flying (while exempting them from any fuel duty or VAT) is the root of all evil. Never mind that Ryanair and others charge you more than that to check in and sit down: it's all the Government's fault.

Complicit in this bullshit is a whole army of people who quite like being in the paper. A while back some numpty at ActionAid tried to justify air-freighting produce on the grounds that it alone was keeping Africa from starvation. She'd decided that a few jobs working with highly toxic chemicals in intensive agriculture was worth the continent slowly drying up from climate change and had failed to grasp that most of the farms are owned by rich white people who give sod all back to the local economy. Sadly the global South's agriculture is not being run by an anarcho-syndicalist collective which shares the wealth and work equally. (Perhaps we'd do better encouraging starving people to eat the beans they're growing for us, rather than sending them over here because we can't bear to just eat seasonal produce.)

The latest publicity addict is Ajaya Sodha, "the chairman of Key Travel, a travel Management company that works in the not-for-profit sector".  In a piece in the Times, headlined 'Lives could be saved with money lost to the 'green' travel tax', Sodha claims that development charities are unable to cope with plane tickets increasing and are cutting back their trips abroad. With nothing to gain from a cut in taxes (except more profit for his "travel Management company") Sodha suggests that we should lower (or at least not increase) APD and that doing so would save loads of lives and stuff.

Bollocks. People in Africa are not dying for want of a few NGO types being grounded because of sky-high taxes. They are dying because we keep giving loads of money to dictators, selling weapons to anyone who wants them, stealing all their resources at gun point and allowing murderous companies to operate with impunity. They're also dying, and will be doing so at a growing rate, from climate change: 182 million by the end of the century, according to Christian Aid.

There's something slightly creepy about sending Westerners over to Africa to teach them how to cook and farm. I'm sure that every trip over is purely altruistic, and no one is in the air because they kind of fancied a holiday somewhere exotic which they can justify on work grounds. Seriously, why not train people in Africa to do the work, instead of puffing up the passports of the thousands of International Development graduates SOAS churns out every year?

So if we really want to help Africa, we should: a) stop flying there on culture trips, b) stop buying shit made from stolen African resources, c) stop the arms trade and d) stop trying to steal their grain to make bio-fuels, e) stop climate change before the whole continent becomes a pressure cooker and, most importantly, f) ignore self-serving idiots writing in the Times.

Darling's pie in the sky

There has been much speculation over Alistair Darling's first pre-budget report and his plans to green the aviation industry.

The chancellor has suggested replacing duty on tickets with a charge based on the type of plane and the distance it will be travelling. This will, he claims, encourage airlines to increase their efficiency (by reducing per-passenger emissions) and to use the latest and most efficient planes to further reduce their tax bills.

Tories abandon green proposals

Cameron and a hoody

Timed to perfection: on the day that a Mori poll showed widespread support for the Tories green agenda, Cameron is rumoured to have rejected key proposals from his Quality of Life commission.

In a move sure to win him the votes of precisely three people in Orpington, Dave is reported to have ditched Zac Goldsmith's much anticipated moratorium on runway expansion (49% support), VAT on flights (37% for, 34% against) and instead focused on a 'per plane' tax, as called for by eco-anarchists easyJet.

Looks like the climate has gone out the window. Not to worry - I'm sure that having less 'death tax' to pay will more than make up for there not being a planet left to inherit...

Public support for Quality of Life commission

A report by pollsters Ipsos-Mori confirms what environmentalists have been saying all along: high levels of popular support for the green agenda.

The report, Public finds much to support in Conservative's new Green Agenda, explored a number of potential Tory policies, and found widespread support for green taxation: 62% of people support the 'polluter pays' principle, while only 10% oppose it.

easyJet in self-serving 'campaign'

Hot on the heels of their dodgy dossier, easyJet have launched a campaign to save the planet by encouraging more of us to piss off to Barcelona for a night on the town.

According to easyJet's national advertising campaign, flying could reduce its emissions by 50% in just 10 years - but the Government and 'greedy Gordon' are conspiring to ensure this doesn't happen. Only scrapping APD will save us all from climatalogical oblivion.

Ryanair in self-promotion shocker!

Fed up with only getting into the broadsheets by buying an advert or two, Micheal O'Lairy has re-invented himself as the people's champion, saving us all from 'Greedy Gordon' and his evil tax grabbing ways (surely 'returning APD to its 1999/2000 budgetary level' - Ed.).

Funny how a company which got rich by demmanding bungs from local councils to fly into their airports can accuse anyone else of highway robbery isn't it? But, as the Independent reports, O'Dearie goes further, taking on lastminute.com and other travel agents in a battle over overcharging for flights.