Should Private Jets Pay More Fuel Tax?

By Spyros Georgilidakis | October 9, 2022

Should the owners of private jets have to pay more tax for aviation fuel? Controversially, this is what some authorities are considering.

The pandemic saw a dramatic reduction in air travel that the aviation industry as a whole still hasn’t fully recovered from. At the same time, we briefly saw a reduction in protests about air travel, which wasn’t surprising. But these weren’t the only aviation-related effects of the pandemic.

Photo: Markus Eigenheer, CC BY-SA 2.0

In 2020 we also saw a dramatic rise in the demand for business jets, as those who could afford them looked for an alternative to commercial air travel. So with private jets attracting more attention, perhaps the calls to change tax levels relevant to them are inevitable in some places.

In recent months, we have seen other objections to air travel, like those on short-haul flights. Some argue that if trains can make a journey between two cities in a specific amount of time, there should be restrictions on a flight covering the same route. But arguably, business jets are a bigger problem.

Should Private Jets Pay More Fuel Tax?
Photo: Adrian Pingstone


Fuel Tax, Private Jets And Efficiency

With airlines and aircraft manufacturers protesting that aircraft are now 15-20% more efficient than the previous generation, perhaps other modes of air travel have attracted less attention. The most common way to look at aircraft efficiency is their per-seat economics. But if we apply the same logic to business jets, these per-seat economics would look very unfavorable.

The calls for higher tax levels on private jets rose in France this summer in particular. This was primarily because some Twitter users began to track the flights of such jets belonging to French billionaires. This development came after another Twitter user started posting flight information for the private jets of Elon Musk and other billionaires.

Should Private Jets Pay More Fuel Tax?
Image: Embraer

So now according to reports, French authorities are considering aligning the fuel tax that owners of private jets pay, with that of automotive fuel. In case you didn’t know, in much of the world aviation fuel is cheaper than gasoline or diesel, primarily because it is in a different tax bracket.

The way the French authorities would implement this tax change on private jets might be difficult. Many privately-owned jets are managed by commercial organizations, with flights often being charters. And beyond such jets and airliners, there are other users of jet fuel, like smaller aircraft with piston engines. Even airport vehicles often use Jet-A or Jet-A1 instead of diesel.


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