Saturday 22 November 2014

Airline 'fat tax' backed by half of travellers

Published 26/03/2013 | 12:50

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Nearly half of travellers are in favour of a “fat tax” on overweight air passengers, new research has shown.

This week an academic in Norway proposed a “pay as you weigh” scheme that would see airlines charging overweight fliers more to help recoup the cost of the extra fuel required to carry them.

In the Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management, Bharat P Bhatta suggested three methods: a straightforward price per kilogram; a fixed low fare, with heavier passengers paying a surcharge and lighter passengers being offered a discount; or the introduction of three bands – heavy, normal and light, with passengers charged accordingly.

His suggestions received the backing of 48 per cent of those questioned in a poll by the website Holiday Extras. The plans received slightly more support among men, with 51 per cent in favour, compared to 43 per cent of women.

“Sitting next to a large person on a plane can sometimes reduce the space that you have to relax,” said James Lewis of Holiday Extras. “If we have to pay extra for excess baggage, maybe we should pay extra for excess body weight.”

The problem of passenger obesity has become an increasingly pertinent issue for airlines in recent years. Adult obesity rates in the UK have almost quadrupled in the last quarter of a century, with around 22 per cent of Britons now considered obese. That compares to around 14 per cent of the European Union’s adult population, and more than 32 per cent of Americans.

“I think the simplest way to implement this would be for passengers to declare their weight when buying a plane ticket,” Dr Bhatta of Fjordane University College said. “This would save time and eliminate expense. At the airport airlines could randomly select passengers and if they lied about their weight they would have to pay the fat fare and a penalty.”

Ian Yeoman, the editor of the Journal, endorsed Dr Bhatta’s proposal.

"For airlines, every extra kilogram means more expensive jet fuel must be burned, which leads to CO2 emissions and financial cost," he said.

"As the airline industry is fraught with financial difficulties, marginally profitable and has seen exponential growth in the last decade, maybe they should be looking to introduce scales at the check-in."

Oliver Smith Telegraph.co.uk

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