France threatens ban on private jets: industry reacts
French aviation industry leaders have told Corporate Jet Investor (CJI) they are “astonished” about the country’s Transport minister’s plan to ban private jets.
France’s minister delegate for Transport Clément Beaune said he wants to ban or restrict the use of private jets in France and will aim to raise the topic at the European Transport ministers’ meeting in October, as reported in the French daily Le Parisien. He added that he wants to ensure that the EU acts as one to ensure all “have the same rules and impact is maximised”. If an outright ban isn’t an option, Beaune wants to introduce stricter regulation and restrictions on private jets to reduce carbon emissions.
“It is very unfortunate that the minister goes for the easiest route by blaming CEOs that are keeping France and the EU afloat,” Robert Baltus, chief operations officer, European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) told CJI. He said that business aviation is “the segment of the aviation industry that allows economies to shine and remote regions to be connected, without mentioning all the medical and emergency operations that are performed thanks to business aircraft”.
In recent weeks, several Twitter accounts that claim to track the private jet flights of French billionaires have amassed a following. Baltus said: “It is with astonishment that we realised that the political agenda of the French republic is now defined based on a Twitter account keeping track of Bernard Arnault’s private jet flights, a French individual using business aircraft in the conduct of his business, CEO of a company that injected €64bn into the European economy.” Instead, he thinks Beaune should “focus his attention on introducing the Single European Sky initiative” that will reduce overall aviation emissions in Europe by 10%.
“Thousands and thousands of people are employed in this industry in France, directly and indirectly,” Patrick Hansen, CEO of charter company Luxaviation Group told CJI. “I am sure that all their research and development is providing increasingly fuel-efficient jets. And I believe it would be a pity for all those people and their families if France would show the world that this industry should be banned.”
Hansen added that Beaune is highlighting an important issue and said that rather than banning private jets he and the industry’s leaders should use this to “push for new technologies to be rolled out first in this sector, as the clientele and users of these jets are able and willing to pay more to fly sustainably”.
Vitaly Arkhangelskiy, director, Jet.Paris told CJI: “I am very much surprised that I came to know news like this from journalists and not via initial discussions with the professional community,”. He said he would want to highlight the benefits of the industry to Beaune, to “prove to the minister that behind populist wording there is a deep history which relates to [numerous] jobs, taxes and development of infrastructure [such as] regional airports, which are also used for medical and other special purposes, including education of pilots which is crucial nowadays”.
Even if restrictions or bans are introduced, it will take “a very long time” before anything can be implemented due to French bureaucracy, he added.
Meanwhile, last week, French Green National Secretary Julien Bayou, national secretary of French green organisaton Europe Écologie Les Verts said he wanted to “ban all private jets” as he believed it would have “an impact on a very small number of people, with immense ecological benefits”, as reported in the French daily newspaper Libération. He announced he will be tabling a cross-party bill on the matter in the coming weeks.
In March this year, the Canadian Government announced it was revising its luxury tax legislation that had previously proposed all private aircraft purchased in the country would be taxed as luxury personal aircraft.
To read the interview in Le Parisien, click here.
Read the full letter from EBAA’s Baltus below:
“The EBAA and its members have taken note of minister Beaune’s initiative to regulate private jet flights. It is with astonishment that we realised that the political agenda of the French republic is now defined based on a Twitter account keeping track of Bernard Arnault’s private jet flights, a French individual using business aircraft in the conduct of his business, CEO of a company that injected €64bn into the European economy. It is very unfortunate that the minister goes for the easiest route by blaming CEOs that are keeping France and the EU afloat and the segment of the aviation industry that allows economies to shine and remote regions to be connected, without mentioning all the medical end emergency operations that are performed thanks to business aircraft.
Minister Beaune has to realise his political campaign is over, he got the job! Now it is time to find solutions to the real challenges the French and Europeans are facing, and we have a few ideas that require political courage to be implemented. Should he wish to go this way we are keen on supporting him and his ideas! Bullying the smallest segment of the aviation sector representing 0.04% of the global CO2 emissions because it’s an easy target and the crowd demands a sacrifice won’t solve anything, on the contrary, it will further deteriorate European economies and the lives of the citizens we serve and employ.
Moreover, the business aviation sector is a signatory of the Toulouse Declaration that was designed by the French government a few months ago with the support of all the aviation stakeholders, all EU member state, and several third countries such as the US or Canada. Minister Beaune’s statement undermines all the work that was achieved during the French Presidency by the French themselves all in the name of ‘green populism’.
If the minister was serious about improving aviation’s footprint, he would focus his attention on introducing the Single European Sky initiative that will reduce ALL aviation emissions in Europe by 10%. However, France has been the member state primarily stalling the introduction of this initiative for nearly 20 years as the French ministers are afraid of the French unions. Let’s just reflect on that… Up to 10% of CO2 generated by all flights in Europe over the last 20 years has been wasted fuel as this minister and his predecessors have not been willing and able to make easy necessary changes that are available by the introduction of SES!
Governments and industry should be aligned on reducing CO2. The EBAA and its partners are committed since the global Business Aviation Commitment on Climate change in 2009. Business aviation is a pioneer in Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and the sector is a leader in innovations such as AAM [Advanced Air Mobility] and electric aircraft as the way forward to ensure that aviation at large can keep on improving towards decarbonisation. And just like the airlines, we’ll be carbon neutral in 2050 so there’s no need at all to discriminate against an entire sector, a minority that brings so much to the majority (€87bn of economic output in Europe only and around 400,000 highly skilled jobs).
France has a great aviation and technology heritage with great business aviation manufacturers like Dassault, Daher, Airbus and Airbus helicopters. These companies are developing the sustainable aviation of tomorrow through all types of technological improvements such as SAF, electric aircraft, etc. It is sad that its own Transport minister is now trying to close their industry down and indirectly encouraging them to move to third countries that do support new technologies like China, the US, etc.
Business aircraft should be used when they are needed, in the interest of the 450m EU citizens who expect more from their policymakers, they expect real answers to the current crisis we are going through, not empty media announcements.”
Chief operations officer,
European Business Aviation Association
Read more on Baltus’ letter here.