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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 November 2005, 16:50 GMT
French government agrees air tax
Passenger jets
The French plan would boost foreign aid with a tax on air passengers
The French government has approved plans for a new tax on airline tickets to boost aid for the world's poor.

The tax, which needs parliamentary approval, would range from one to 40 euros depending on the distance travelled and type of ticket.

Levied on every passenger boarding a flight in France, it could raise up to 210m euros ($248m; 144m) a year.

President Jacques Chirac has been campaigning for an international air tax to help fight global poverty.

He first raised the idea during the Word Economic Forum in Switzerland last January, saying an international tax of one euro should be charged on the 3 billion airline tickets issued each year.

He has the support of the UK government, which has agreed to divert revenues from its existing Air Passenger Duty.

In Chile, a $2 surcharge will be added to tickets on all outgoing flights from January 1 2006.

But the US has made it clear that it does not support the idea, and it is not clear how many other governments will adopt Mr Chirac's proposal.

Airlines are concerned at the idea of a new air passenger tax at a time when many of them are already having to levy extra fuel surcharges on tickets because of high oil prices.

Air France KLM chairman Jean-Cyril Spinetta said that he agreed with the idea of increasing development aid, but that he had "serious reservations about the principle of taxing air transport".

France is the most popular tourist destination in the world, with more than 100 million air passengers passing through its airports each year.

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