Flight tax citizens initiative crosses 50,000 threshold

File picture of plane in flight / Credit: iStock

A citizens initiative to impose a tax on airline passengers – a so-called ‘flight tax’ – has crossed the 50,000 signature threshold.

Most of the names came in recent days, with a surge in support on the official website.

“One week ago it felt really hopeless and I still don’t fully understand it, it feels unbelievable, but I am really happy. Especially happy for the campaigners, a small group has spent one year campaigning” says Janne Kilpinen, one of the organisers of the citizens initiative campaign.

The organisers believe that economic controls are needed to reduce the number of Finns flying. They say that air transport generates very high levels of carbon dioxide, water vapor and other emissions which account for about 4% of global warming.

“The main purpose is to quit the additional advantage that flight industry now has, which is the tax free situation […] and the target is to slow down the climate crisis or avoid it, this feels really important even if this is just a small step, it is a step in the right direction” Kilpinen tells News Now Finland.

The tax, levied per passenger, would bring Finland in line with Sweden where a tax between €6 and €40 is charged.

“This flight tax could of course be adjusted so that the sum depends on how far you are going and that then reflects the emissions, that’s how it’s done in other countries. In Britain for example the sum even depends on which class, if you travel in first class or private jets it is much more than if you travel in tourist class. But in Sweden it is cheaper, and they have domestic, or EU or overseas flight taxes” Kilpinen explains.

File picture showing exterior of parliament with flowers, spring 2019 / Credit: News Now Finland

Political will in parliament

The next step of the process is that the initiative organisers have a certain amount of time to file all the paperwork with authorities, and then parliament committees consider it for discussion.

While the flight tax has a lot of support in parliament, it’s not universal, as Silja Jääskeläinen, one of the other organisers of the citizens initiative explains.

“The Greens and Left Alliance are very much for the for the flight tax, but in every party there are some people who like the idea, it’s very mixed, but also some strong opinions against it” she says.

“There are also some surprises, like from the Finns Party, you see Jussi Hala-aho saying flying is really cheap, and many people are finding out this is maybe just a price we have to pay” she adds.

Although the citizens initiative was started by private individuals, it was financially supported by Friends of the Earth Finland, who helped develop a website for the effort.