Senator John Thune
With the holidays quickly approaching, many travelers are keeping a careful eye on the price of airfare around the country. Rising demand due to the holiday season and higher fuel prices both impact the bottom line of ticket prices. What these budget conscious travelers may not know is that controversial regulations coming from the European Union (E.U.) could impact the price of their airline tickets, even if they don’t plan to fly overseas.
Beginning in January of 2012, U.S. airline carriers and passengers became subject to an unprecedented, illegal, and disingenuous tax, levied against them by the E.U. This tax is part of the E.U.’s Emissions Trading System (ETS), which requires all international flights operating to and from the E.U., including flights into and out of U.S. airspace to pay an emissions tax, or “climate tax” to the E.U.
This unilateral decision by the E.U., is not only an affront to our nation’s sovereignty, but could also cost consumers and U.S. air carriers billions of dollars. A leading airline association estimates that this tax could cost U.S. airlines more than $3.1 billion between 2012 and 2020, which could otherwise be used for the creation of nearly 40,000 jobs. Without question, these taxes will be passed on to the flying public in the form of higher airfares for both domestic and international flights.
In order to protect America's sovereignty and to ensure that American aviation operators and passengers are not penalized by this tax, I introduced a bipartisan bill in the U.S. Senate last year to provide the secretary of transportation with the authority to ensure U.S. aircraft operators are not penalized or harmed by the E.U.'s emissions scheme. Over the past year I have been able to garner bipartisan support for the legislation, and on September 22, 2012, the Senate passed my legislation by unanimous consent, and on November 13, 2012 the House of Representatives passed my bill by voice vote.
These votes sent a strong message to the E.U. Our efforts, along with widespread opposition around the globe, led to the recent announcement by the European Commissioner for Climate Change that the E.U. intends to postpone collecting taxes on international flights into and out of Europe until after the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) – which the U.S. is party to, convenes to discuss this and other issues next autumn.
While I was pleased with this announcement, it does not rule out future efforts by the E.U. to tax foreign carriers. My legislation is critical to protecting American sovereignty as we wait for ICAO to reach an acceptable agreement. I call on the president to quickly sign this bipartisan bill to ensure we protect U.S. air carriers and passengers from this illegal tax and put an end to this unlawful attack on American sovereignty.