- London Telegraph -
Lord Turner was speaking as the Committee unveiled its report which said drastic action – including higher taxes – were needed to curb the growth in aviation demand over the next four decades.
In its report, the Committee said that the number of people flying to and from British airports should increase by no more than 60 per cent by 2050 for the Government to meet its target of ensuring that aviation's carbon emissions are no higher then than they were in 2005.
It has called for the cost of air travel to be raised by a number of means including higher taxes, charging airlines more for the carbon they use.
However Lord Turner admitted that "social fairness" would be a key factor in working out how these taxes would be levied.
"If you leave it entirely to a price regime, then people will be able to fly if they can afford it," Lord Turner said.
The report found that those earning more than £60,000 annually flew just under four times a year, while those on £20,000 took only two flights.
"We will have to see what our policy responses are and to examine whether we could increase the marginal cost of flying beyond two to three flights a year.
"I think there is a whole range of ideas people have floated. Could you have a tax which allows you to have a certain number of flights?"
Lord Turner suggested one model worth examining was that used by the electricity industry, where the tariff increases with use. "If you want to have more than the average number of flights, then you pay a higher price."
But Lord Turner's suggestions were condemned by Simon Evans, chief executive of the Air Transport Users Council. "I accept that there has to be a mature debate about mitigating our carbon footprint, but aviation should not be singled out.
"People fly for a wide range of reasons and this would not only discriminate against people on low incomes but also would mean that people who have to fly for work would face higher charges because they have used up their allowance."
The aviation industry also condemned calls for new taxes to curb demand for flights, arguing that airlines could meet the global demand for a reduction in emissions by improved technology, alternative fuels and improved air traffic management, which would cut the amount of time planes spent circling airports waiting to land.