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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 July 2006, 14:41 GMT 15:41 UK
France air tax aims to help poor
By Caroline Wyatt
BBC News, Paris

Air France Airbus
Few European nations have signed up to the French proposal
A new tax has come into effect on all flights leaving France, with money going to humanitarian projects in developing countries.

It is expected to raise 200 million euros (130m) for development aid in its first year of operation.

The levy is one euro on short haul flights in Europe, rising to 40 euros for first-class long-haul flights.

The project was personally backed by French President Jacques Chirac, who wanted the wealthy West to follow suit.

Airlines cautious

Added together, the tax will raise millions in development aid, with the money going towards an international medical fund to fight Aids, TB and malaria.

The fund, known as Unitaid, will bulk buy medicines for countries, especially in Africa, which could not otherwise afford them.

The other nations who have signed up include Brazil, Chile, Cyprus and Norway, but few of France's nearer neighbours.

The UK has said that while in principle it supports the idea, it already has a similar levy in place - raising money for debt relief.

Most airlines have lobbied against the idea, claiming that an extra tax on tickets at a time of rising fuel costs is unfair on the airlines.


SEE ALSO
French government agrees air tax
23 Nov 05 |  Business
EU ministers agree tax on flying
15 May 05 |  Business
EU ministers to mull jet fuel tax
17 Feb 05 |  Business

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