Iata chief warns against uncompetitive European ‘tax grabs’

Iata has warned politicians against imposing “uncompetitive cash grab” taxes in Europe that could stifle economic recovery.

Director general Willie Walsh voiced his concern as the airline trade body reported total global passenger demand rose by 21.5% in February, taking account of an extra day over the same month in 2023 due to leap year.

He said: “The strong start to 2024 continued in February with all markets except North America reporting double-digit growth in passenger traffic. 

“There is good reason to be optimistic about the industry’s prospects in 2024 as airlines accelerate investments in decarbonisation and passenger demand shows resilience in the face of geopolitical and economic uncertainties.

“It is critical that politicians resist the temptation of cash grabs with new taxes that could destabilise this positive trajectory and make travel more expensive. 

“In particular, Europe is a worry as it seems determined to lock in its sluggish economic recovery with uncompetitive tax proposals.”

European carriers saw a 15.9% year-on-year increase in demand in February as capacity grew by 16%, according to the latest Iata data. The load factor in Europe was pegged at 74.7%.

International demand overall rose 26.3%, capacity was up 25.5% year-on-year and the load factor improved by 0.5 percentage points to 79.3%.

Domestic demand grew by 15%, capacity was up 9.4% year-on-year and the load factor was up four percentage points to 82.6%.

Airlines in the Asia-Pacific region saw the highest level of monthly demand at 53.2% as capacity increased 52.1% year-on-year and the load factor rose to 84.9%, the highest among all regions.

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