The European Commission, in its drive to cut greenhouse emissions, is currently considering the introduction of a new green tax on airline tickets which will add an extra 16.3 (£10) to the cost of a flight within Europe. European Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio admitted yesterday that the commission is considering the green tax which will primarily hit holidaymakers. According to The Times a sources at Virgin Atlantic has branded the new tax “a holiday tax.” The new levy, if approved, could be in place within two years. Hardest hit will be passengers flying to the US west coast. The proposed green tax on flights to California for example will be 81.5 euros (£50) while the tax on flights to the East coast will be around 57 euros (£35). On flights within Europe, the green tax will vary from between 8.15 and 16.3 euros. The British government has already expressed its support for the tax. So far, airlines have managed to avoid taxes on fuel consumption and emissions, but with air travellers already having to pay high airport taxes, in the UK and Spain airport taxes add up to 25 euros - it will be the holidaymakers and passengers who will end up paying the price for airline pollution. Tour operators and the low-cost airlines have expressed deep concern over the proposed tax which will reduce the discounts airlines will be able to offer. Airline operating costs are already extremely high - in Spain airport taxes were increased on January 1 and of course, there is huge concern about the negative impact of the Balearic tourist tax which will add to the cost of people's holidays. Airlines have admitted that, in the wake of September 11 and the down turn in business, the responsibility of paying the green tax will have to be passed on to the passengers. Airline passengers pay around one billion pounds per year in airport taxes, the airlines believe the figure is sufficient to cover the cost of dealing with emissions from aircraft. The industry is worried that a new tax within the next 18 months will lead to another reduction in passengers with travellers opting for alternative modes of transport where possible and in Europe the options are numerous with the number of ferry and rail passengers already rising.

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