Democratic senator wants new taxes on private jet travel

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senator Ed Markey on Wednesday said he is proposing additional taxes on private jet trips to address the climate impacts of wealthy travel.

Markey, a Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee that oversees aviation, said the bill would require wealthy travelers “to pay their fair share for the environmental and infrastructure costs of their use of private jets.”

The bill would increase the surcharge for non-commercial aviation, with the proceeds going to an environmental trust fund.

Markey cited a study from the progressive Institute for Policy Studies that found private jets have emissions at least 10 times higher than commercial airline planes per passenger.

“Billionaires and the ultra-wealthy are getting a bargain, paying less in taxes each year to fly private and contribute more pollution than millions of drivers combined on the roads below,” Markey said in a statement.

The study found the size of the global private jet fleet has increased 133% in the last two decades from 9,895 in 2000 to 23,133 in mid-2022.

Immediately after the pandemic, business aviation rebounded faster than commercial air travel, swelling planemakers’ order books as more wealthy travelers flew on private jets to avoid crowded airports and connecting flights.

The Federal Aviation Administration said there were nearly 5.4 million U.S. business jet operations in 2022 – the highest number ever and an 18% increase on 2019 levels.

A group representing private jet owners did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Several European nations have imposed or called for new taxes on business travel. Belgium introduced new taxes on private jets this year.

Markey’s bill would boost the current surcharge from $0.22 to $1.95 per gallon. That would cost private jet users the equivalent of an estimated $200 per metric ton of a private jet’s carbon dioxide emissions.

In 2021, the United States set a goal of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. aviation sector by 2050.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Emma Rumney)