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Greek Airlines Against New World Aviation Tax

Airlines in Greece with scheduled flights said that they consider unjust the proposed new aviation tax to fund development in poor countries.

“Certainly, we believe we must assist the world community of poorer fellow citizens, but with contributions from the overall community and not just one specific category of citizens,” said the Union of Greek Airline Representatives.

It said that the sector is already extremely hard hit with various taxes and high fuel costs and additional costs could have very negative consequences for the Greek and European economy.

As well, following the G8 summit last month, international travel industry associations and organizations are continuing their united opposition to a proposed new aviation tax to fund development in poor countries.

The group says aid for developing countries is laudable, but funding it through a new tax on aviation is misguided and counterproductive.

The group says any additional tax would decrease airline efficiencies and reduce demand for travel and tourism, which is a major driver of economic development in many poor countries.

The travel industry also believes the proposal would put an unnecessary burden on the travel sector, in particular airlines, which have sustained billion dollar losses over the past four years and must now absorb record- breaking oil prices.

Giovanni Bisignani of the International Air Transport Association slammed the proposal, which he said has divided the governments of Europe.

“We are not an industry of millionaire customers able to travel at any price,” he said.

“Air transport is an essential part of the fabric of modern life. If governments are truly serious about development, there are glaring opportunities to generate billions for aid simply by removing trade barriers.”

Travel industry research shows that, with related industries, the air transport sector supports US$1.4 trillion of economic output, or 4.5% of global GDP.

Robert J Aaronson of the Geneva- based Air Transport Action Group said that “Airports are catalysts for economic development by creating jobs, encouraging new business development and building capacity to underpin travel, trade and tourism. Airports have demonstrated their long-term commitment to relevant assistance for developing nations.”

The travel associations opposing the proposed tax believe that development needs commitment, not political grandstanding and that air transport needs common-sense policy and a level playing field, not more taxation.

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