French levy on airline tickets raises more than one billion euros for word's poor since 2006

France’s levy on air tickets has collected more than one billion euros since its launch in 2006, according to results published by the French Civil Aviation Authority  (DGAC) on 23 January.

UNITAID, the principal beneficiary of this levy, congratulates France for its pivotal and leadership role in innovative financing for development. The air ticket levy, a predictable and robust source of revenue, contributes to the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, diseases that cause more than 4 million deaths every year.

“I would like to thank France for its firm commitment to this innovative and life-saving initiative”, said UNITAID Executive Board Chairman Philippe Douste-Blazy.

UNITAID Executive Director Denis Broun also took the opportunity to thank passengers who have helped save lives around the world through their purchase of tickets for flights out of France on all airlines. “Every flight counts. The contribution from each ticket purchase pays for one week’s treatment for a child living with HIV/AIDS”, he added.

This minimal levy, just 1 euro for economy-class tickets and 40 euros for business class, applies to all passengers on all flights out of France. Importantly, the levy has had no negative impact on  tourism. According to figures from the World Tourism Organization, France was still the world’s prime tourist destination a year after the levy was first imposed, and it retained its number-one spot in 2011. Moreover, a report published in July 2011 by the French National Assembly described the air ticket levy as a “French success story”, noting that it had had no adverse effects on air traffic or jobs in the airline industry.

UNITAID therefore urges other countries to follow the French example by introducing a similar national levy on airline tickets.

Thanks to the levy, UNITAID has achieved notable results in its fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, by exploiting its purchasing power to drive down the price of medicines and make quality health products available to some of the poorest people in the world.

Among its many successes, UNITAID has created the market for paediatric HIV/AIDS treatments by negotiating across-the-board price reductions of 80%; supplied medicines to more than 400 000 children living with HIV/AIDS; administered HIV tests to 8 million pregnant women in countries with high-prevalence rates; distributed more than 200 million high-quality malaria treatments in endemic countries; and supplied 1 million paediatric TB treatments.

UNITAID (www.unitaid.eu) is a world health initiative launched in 2006 by the Governments of Brazil, Chile, France, Norway and the United Kingdom to ensure sustainable and predictable funding for HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB campaigns.

About 70 % of UNITAID funding comes from a minimal levy on airline tickets.

Today, UNITAID is supported by 28 countries and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Acting through its operational partners, UNITAID finances the procurement of quality-assured medicines and diagnostic tests for patients in poor countries, using its purchasing power on the markets to expand supply, promote the development of new and higher-quality products, cut delivery times and drive down prices.