ETW STAFF – Mumbai
An independent online poll of 1,000 adults conducted between 26 and 28 March 2013 by travel search site Skyscanner revealed that the majority (59 per cent) of international travellers were in favour of an airline ‘Fat Tax’, which would see airlines charging more for their seats to overweight passengers. While 41 per cent of travellers in the study however were against it stating that it was unfair to discriminate.
Kavitha Gnanamurthy, Skyscanner’s market development manager for India, said, “While the so-called ‘Fat Tax’ is a sensitive issue for airlines who will not want to offend larger passengers, it’s clear from our survey that many travellers think that the introduction of such a tax would enable them to save money on their airfare. This provides a useful insight into people’s attitudes where reductions in air fares take precedence over important qualities such as ‘sensitivity’ and ‘empathy.’ Sad but true.” The poll follows a call by Norwegian economist Dr Bharat P Bhatta, an associate professor at Sogn og Fjordane University College, who said that airlines should follow other transport sectors and charge by space and weight. He is of the opinion that a ‘pay as you weigh airline pricing’ model could bring benefits to airlines in the form of cheaper fares and reduced carbon emissions. Samoa Air, which operates in the Pacific, already charges passengers according to weight in what it says is a ‘world first’ cost-per-kilo fare system. Closer home, Air India had sent a directive to its cabin crew aged 40 and over that they could get grounded if they were found to be unfit or overweight following a series of new medical tests.