Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Another Trip Up To The Moral High Ground

Now the Tories have come up with a cunning plan to reduce short haul flights. VAT would be levied on fuel for domestic flights for the first time and airlines would be forced to give over airport slots to long-haul trips. All flights would be subject to a separate per-flight tax based on the amount of CO2 generated, replacing the air passenger duty and shifting the burden from passengers to airlines. The proposals also include plans for a moratorium on airport expansion pending attempts to free capacity at existing airports by restricting short-haul flights and forcing travellers to switch to high speed trains.

They say that because a fifth of journeys are to destinations in Europe and the UK that are served by high speed trains it would reduce the need for a third runway. All this comes from the quality of Life group headed by John Gummer and the environmental campaigner Zac Goldsmith.

They've clearly lost the plot and are jumping on the bandwagon. First of all this will force up ticket prices when you shift the 'burden' to the airlines because funnily enough they'll pass it on to the passengers. I know there's the expansion of the Eurostar upcoming but what high speed trains in the UK? Unless I'm very much mistaken, and I'm a regular traveller to London on the Edinburgh line, it is pretty full a lot of the time and there doesn't seem to be that much spare capacity. Many of the passengers using domestic flights are connecting to long haul flights at Heathrow and it is naive to think that it will 'force' airlines to increase in any significant way long haul flights from non-London airports.

At some point or another politicians are going to realise that this 'push of the green vote' is going to start to backfire. Yet again we in Britain seem to be climbing to the top of the moral high ground while others are just laughing at us. Added to which it is people who are travelling on plans at their own free will. If they are to stop flying so much it either has to be through price or legislation that limits capacity. Capacity legislation will likely be challenged in the European courts and similarly any moves to increase taxes or landing fees will not just affect British airlines but also European airlines - again fodder for the courts.

We either have to be convinced that by not flying so much we will save the planet or we will have to be forced not to fly domestically so much by the government restricting flights. For me all other bets are off. Oh yes, and if Scotland gains independence it will not be a domestic flight.


If anyone doubts the value of air travel to the UK then they would so well to check THIS on the Department of Transport's web site. The Quality of Life's simplistic view of how air transport and airlines function does not auger well.

1 comment:

Wolfie said...

My God will they ever get anything right again? You're right, its a rubbish plan.