The move, which will take effect from 2020, will see a tax of €1.5 imposed on economy-class tickets on internal flights and those within Europe, with the highest tariff applied to business-class travellers flying outside the bloc, Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne said.
Emmanuel Macron is keen for the EU to introduce a Europe-wide green tariff on flights. Photo: AFP
The new measure is expected to bring in some €182 million a year which will be invested in greener transport infrastructures, notably rail, she said.
It will only be applied on outgoing flights and not those flying into the country, Borne added.
A similar tax was introduced in Sweden in April 2018, which imposed an added charge of up to €40 on every ticket in a bid to lessen the impact of air travel on the climate.
France has also proposed an EU-wide eco tariff on airlines, applied as either an extra tax on flights or a levy on airline fuel.
“Different charges could be considered to reinforce the principle of 'polluter pays' and France believes that they should be weighed up in order to find the best way of doing it,” a source in the French government said.
“Given the scale of the climate challenge, France believes that we need to go further and more quickly.”
The UN's International Civil Aviation Organization estimates commercial flying is responsible for two percent of global CO2 emissions and EU figures show it as the most polluting form of transport per kilometre travelled.
Calls to boycott air travel have grown in recent years in step with growing awareness about the dangers of climate change.
“Flygskam”, or flight shame, has become a buzz word in Sweden in reference to the guilt felt over the environmental effects of flying, with more and more young Swedes opting to travel by train to ease their consciences.
Spearheading the movement for trains-over-planes is Sweden's Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate school striker who refuses to fly and travelled by rail to the World Economic Forum in Davos this year.
French President Emmanuel Macron is also keen to boost his own green credentials after the French Green party surged in May's European Parliament election, finishing third behind Macron's centrist Republic on the Move party and the far-right National Rally.
Macron's record of persuading his EU partners to adopt new taxes is mixed, however, after he failed to convince them to create a new EU-wide levy on internet and technology groups such as Apple and Amazon.