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Fat tax on planes proposed

Plane on a runway27/03/13

By Angela Rees

Should heavier air passengers be made to pay more for their plane tickets than lighter ones?

A Norwegian professor has suggested they should, and has put forward three proposals for pay-what-you-weigh pricing.

Dr Bharat P Bhatta, of the Sogn og Fjordane University College in Norway, said weight and space should be taken into consideration when airlines price their tickets.

His first proposal would see passengers charged according to how much they and their belongings weigh, fixing a rate for kilograms per passenger so that a person weighing 60kg (nine stone 6lbs) pays half the airfare of a person weighing 120kg (18 stone 12lbs).

Another option involves charging a fixed base rate, with an additional charge for heavier passengers to cover the extra costs. This would mean that every passenger could have a different fare.

And the third option would see the same fare paid if the passenger has an average weight, but it could be less or more depending on size. This would result in three types of fare - high, average or low.

Writing in this month's Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management publication, Dr Bhatta, who thinks the third option is most suitable for implementation, said charging according to weight and space is a "universally accepted principle" not only in transportation but also in other services.

"As weight and space are far more important in aviation than other modes of transport, airlines should take this into account when pricing their tickets," he said.

The journal's editor Dr Ian Yeoman added that every extra kilogram means more expensive jet fuel must be burned, which leads to higher CO2 emissions and financial cost.

"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," he said.

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