A week and a half ago, the French government mooted a new tax on air tickets – ranging between one and forty euros, depending on the type of flight – to create a special development fund for poor countries that need help fighting health scourges like HIV/AIDS and malaria, among other challenges. In France, the tax will take effect from 1 July.
The initiative garnered support from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and eleven other countries, which have promised to start taxing flights soon. The countries are: Brazil, Britain, Chile, Congo, Cyprus, France, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mauritius, Nicaragua, and Norway.
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South Africa, meanwhile – which has one of the highest rates of AIDS prevalance in the world – has said it won’t tax tickets, but will contribute to any airline tax fund in other, as-yet unelaborated ways.
In the age of the internet, of course, travellers can choose whether they want to pay this tax or not. If you want to support the development fund, book your tickets in France, or one of the other countries above. If you want to wriggle out of it, book elsewhere.