Transportation prices: your favorite plane? It’s a little more complicated

According to data from the Environmental Defense and Energy Management Agency (ADEME), the train pollutes fourteen times less than the plane per passenger per kilometre. But unfair taxation and the advantages granted to low-cost airlines distort prices to the detriment of the former: these are the main arguments put forward by rail promoters against air transport.

Specifically, there are in fact costs on train tickets from which the passenger is exempt when taking the plane. If you opt for the railway, you therefore pay a “toll” (see page 2). Energy prices – and their surge – are also to be taken into consideration by the SNCF, the leading national consumer of electricity, taxed at 20%. Then there is the VAT, at 10%. A VAT to be paid in flight on domestic flights… but not on international flights.

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Beyond the tax issue that is much debated is that of the taxation of kerosene, the fuel used by commercial aviation. Although the dossier is regularly put on the table in Brussels, kerosene is not subject to the European directive on energy taxation while in France civil aviation is exempt from TICPE, the internal tax on the consumption of energy products. This reduces the price of tickets, while the weight of low cost also breaks the market. Regularly identified, their prices are often lower than actual costs. Even if they are now over, Ryanair’s launches at 9.99 euros were able to illustrate this.

A heavy industry

However, these companies can also cut prices because they win “promotion and advertising service contracts” from “many delegates or managers” of airports with “the aim of promoting tourism in the destination and its region”, the Court of Auditors has just recalled. “In the period 2017 to 2019, 15 airports paid Ryanair […] over 58.3 million euros for the purchase of marketing services”, he specified, of which “almost 33 million” in Occitania, through six of the ten airports in the region.

This reminds us that, seen from an office in Paris or from the realities on the ground in Tarbes, Rodez, Carcassonne or Perpignan, emergencies are not the same.

In fact, with a very attractive regional tariff policy, even for the train – as for the 1 euro tickets – it is the train-plane complementarity that seems to be favored rather than their opposition. Aeronautical heart of Europe, Occitania also knows that in France this industry weighs 106 billion euros and 263,000 employees, according to INSEE.

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