As governments look to increase their own revenues, airlines have been targeted as potential revenue streams. The USA has put new taxes into place that are embedded into all airplane ticket prices at the time of purchase. Spirit and others airlines have fought for disclosure of these taxes and are now able to separate the taxes and fare prices, but the tax often exceeds the actual ticket price at Spirit.
The Barack Obama administration has recently proposed two new taxes on the airline industry. The first addition would be a $100 departure tax to all flights leaving a U.S.-based airport. The second proposed tax is to increase the “passenger security tax” from $2.50 per passenger to $5 and then triple the current tax to $7.50 by 2017. The taxes are expected to impose a $36 billion burden on flights in the USA over the next 10 years. Interestingly, in the previous 10 years, the best year ever for domestic airlines, the airlines posted a profit of $3.6 billion, which is the exact amount of the annual tax burden purposed by the Obama administration.
Airlines face increasing pressure to be more proactive in combating greenhouse gasses and noise pollution. Some organizations such as the European Union have even imposed further penalties and restrictions on carbon emissions. To combat this concern, airlines to their credit have invested in more fuel-efficient designs of planes and engines and have marketed these changes to their customers. Critics suggest airlines are only undertaking these measures as a means to cut their own fuel burden and have little regard for the environment as a whole.
One interesting aspect on this front is the increased usage of biofuels (cooking oil) in conjunction with jet fuel. United Airlines has experimented using 40 percent biofuel and many other airlines have experimented using 20-percent biofuel blended with jet fuel. Biofuel can perform as good or better than 100-percent jet fuel and can drastically reduce emissions and possibly increase fuel economy. However, biofuels remain much more expensive and full implementation of supplementing with biofuels is still several years away.