• Air ticket tax in Ireland, Belgium backs down

    Two EU countries last month announced new air passenger taxes.

    Ireland and Belgium both said they would levy a basic €10 tax on tickets, but Belgium then abandoned its plans after fierce opposition from the aviation industry, airlines and regional airports.

    Ireland’s charge, which comes into effect in March, will be €10 but reduced to €2 for inland flights and international flights less than 300km.

    This means flights to London will incur the €10 charge, but to British west coast airports it will be just €2.

    Belgium’s tax was to come into effect before the end of this year, starting at €10 for all flights, rising to €50 for intercontinental and business class.

    Neither was publicised as an environmental measure but as a way of raising money: in Belgium’s case €132 million a year, in Ireland’s €150m.

    Both were fiercely attacked by the aviation industry. The Irish low-fares airline Ryanair described Ireland’s tax as ‘discriminatory’, ‘regressive’ and ‘damaging to Ireland’s tourism industry’. The air transport association Iata described both as ‘collective madness’.


    T&E policy officer Bill Hemmings said: ‘These are hysterical reactions. A €10 tax is no more than adding value-added tax to air tickets.’

    Belgium responded by abandoning its tax 24 days after launching it following opposition from regional airports.

    It means Ireland’s will be the fourth air ticket tax in the EU. Great Britain introduced a tax in the 1990s and raised it in February 2007 to a scale of €12.50 to €50. France and the Netherlands also have air ticket taxes.

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