Friday, November 26, 2010

Airport Taxes Be D@md!

Image: Air France A320 coming into land

I’ve just finished booking a ten night stay in Paris, France. All my bookings were done online, and I’m happy to say the whole process was relatively quick and trouble free. But having booked a return ticket from Athens, Greece to Paris, with Air France I still feel a need to vent my spleen.

The actual cost of the flight is just €52.00euros (US$71.00). Return!

This is a bargain if ever I saw one so I have no complaints here. However. Once airport taxes and fees are added to the cost of the ticket, the price jumps to €171.64 (US$235.00)!

Don’t bother, I already have the answer – that amounts to an additional €118.64 (US$162.00) in various taxes and extra fees. Yes, that’s well over double the actual cost of the airline fee. Here’s a breakdown of those extras courtesy of Air France:

Image: Air France Taxes and Surcharges screenshot

If you are having trouble reading the screen shot, here are the itemized extras (in Euros):


I’m not blaming Air France for all these ‘Taxes and Surcharges’. The figures include taxes and fees levied by Athens’ Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport as well as those by Paris’s Charles De Gaulle airport, and I have no way of knowing who gets what when the spoils are divided up between them. But the fact remains, that a cheap €52.00 euro return ticket has more than doubled due to corporate and government greed that happily continues to milk travelers for as much as they can get.

I’m not happy. Not happy at all.

What on earth is a Solidarity Tax? I don’t care if it is only one euro – I want to know what it is, and who gets it. And how does an Airport Fee differ from the Passenger terminal facility charge and the Airport development tax? And what is the Passenger service charge international anyway?

And what about those ridiculous figures? A French airport tax of 4.11? Couldn’t they round the eleven cents down to 10, and the 10.13 cent Passenger service charge international up to 15? Imagine how many croissants the could buy with all those extra millions of 1 cents collected. Yes, I am being sarcastic.

This is patently ridiculous. Imagine how much cheaper air travel would be all over the world if taxes like these were done away with. Ok, that’s expecting too much. Halved, then. Imagine how much cheaper air travel would be all over the world if taxes like these were halved.

Surely someone, somewhere has done the sums on this. Surely, people would travel more if the costs were cheaper. As a case in point, take myself. I would love to visit several other countries in Europe, particularly Italy and Spain and even some of the northern European countries, but simply can’t afford to. I certainly can’t afford to fly to them anyway. So instead of visiting several countries I am only visiting France (apart from Greece where I am currently located).

Sure, if I was visiting three or four additional countries, I would spend fewer days in each destination, but if more people could afford to fly to more countries, one would expect the extra visitor numbers would more than make up for any drop in the length of each visit.

I don’t expect all air travel costs would be reduced by two-thirds if all these extra fees were eliminated, but my one example does shows how cheap air travel could be, if they were.

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