The Irish low-cost airline Ryanair has hit out at a new Aviation Tax which is being proposed by the Dutch government. The flat-rate tax of €7 per departing passenger was included in a draft bill introduced yesterday by the Dutch Finance Secretary Menno Snel. If passed into law the Aviation Tax will come into force in 2021, forming part of an effort to push ‘green’ tax initiatives.
But Ryanair is incensed with a provision in the draft law that exempts both children and transit passengers from paying the tax. The airline says the law is “clearly designed as further state aid” for the national flag carrier KLM which uses Amsterdam’s Schipol airport (AMS) as a base for its ‘hub and spoke’ business model.
Claiming itself to be “Europe’s greenest, cleanest airline”, Ryanair says the Aviation Tax will reward environmentally damaging, connecting flights while passengers on what it describes as “environmentally efficient direct flights” will be slapped with the new charge.
In the statement, Ryanair condemned the proposed tax, saying…
“Ryanair’s passengers have the lowest carbon footprint (CO2 per passenger km) of any airline operating to and from the Netherlands and Ryanair is investing in quieter, more fuel-efficient new aircraft – while KLM continues to operate older, half empty, less fuel-efficient aircraft. This tax rewards KLM’s environmental inefficiency, yet penalises Dutch passengers choosing Ryanair, Europe’s greenest cleanest airline.”
Yet, an Aviation Tax isn’t anything new – in 2008, The Dutch government introduced a much higher tax on flight tickets but ditched the charges just a year later after realising that passenger numbers were falling. Now, not only is demand increasing more than capacity but the Dutch will be following in the footsteps of a slew of countries including Norway and Sweden who have introduced ticket taxes successfully in the last few years.
Other countries like the UK, Germany and France have all had ticket taxes for many years.
And while Ryanair may claim to be the greenest and cleanest airline in Europe, it was recently named the ‘new coal’ after becoming the first ever airline to appear in a Top Ten list of the biggest emitters in Europe. The rest of the Top Ten emitters were all power plants.
That being said, Ryanair has invested in many new and more fuel-efficient aircraft – many more than the legacy airlines of Europe like KLM. The difference, however, is that Ryanair has grown to become Europe’s largest airline with a fleet of aircraft to match.
“If the Dutch Government are serious about the environment then it should apply environmental taxes to the biggest polluter which is those passengers taking 2 connecting flights at Schiphol on older aircraft,” argues Ryanair spokesman Kenny Jacobs.
Yet the Dutch government says they would be more than willing to end their aviation tax if Europe imposed a Continent-wide levy on aviation instead.