Former Qantas chief economist Tony Webber says overweight passengers should pay a surcharge to offset extra fuel costs.
Webber says passengers are already weighed along with their luggage in some parts of the world – citing rural Indonesia as an example – and imposing the fee in Australia would help carriers deal with ballooning fuel costs.
“When the passengers weigh more, or where there’s extra weight on the aircraft, that generates more fuel burn and higher fuel costs,” he told the ABC. He said the surcharge would only amount to $5 or $10 on a flight between Sydney and London.
Some airlines have sought ways to grapple with the growing size of passengers. The majority of US airlines have imposed policies requiring obese passengers to purchase two seats.
But Qantas – as well as the rest of Australia’s airlines – say they have no plans to introduce a fat tax. As Webber himself acknowledged, the surcharge would likely “humiliate” some passengers and could lead to a public relations backlash.
Speaking of which, a social networking tracking site this week tagged Qantas with three of the year’s top 10 PR disasters.
The October grounding of the Qantas fleet took top place while the airline’s luxury pyjamas contest came in second. It’s “golliwog” social media promo came in fifth. The list was compiled by monitoring site Cyber Chatter.