Airlines urge Dutch ‘drop tax plans’

Airline associations including Iata, Airlines for Europe (A4E) and the European regional carriers’ association ERA have urged the Dutch government to drop plans for new aviation taxes.

The aviation bodies sent a joint letter to the Netherlands finance ministry this week, calling for a halt to the taxation plans or “as an absolute minimum, an independent evaluation of the economic and environmental impact of the policy”.

The Dutch government has proposed tackling the environmental impact of flying through a Europe-wide tax on airlines in line with the emissions-reduction aims of the Paris climate agreement of 2015.

The government is also considering a tax on older “noisy and polluting” aircraft, and has suggested it could introduce an additional tax on air passengers from 2021.

The Netherlands’ previous imposition of a tax on flying is frequently held up as an example of the failure of such policies.

The Hague imposed an air departure tax in 2008 and abandoned it a year later after studies suggested a substantial amount of air traffic switched from Amsterdam Schiphol airport to Brussels.

The aviation industry’s letter suggested the proposals would have a “negative impact on the Dutch economy”, prove inefficient and be in “contradiction with international law”.

It also noted Europe’s airlines are required to prepare for a global carbon-offset scheme, Corsia, from January.

The Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, agreed by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) members in 2016, will see airlines pay to offset all emissions above the level of 2020.

It will be introduced in phases, with the UK and other EU states among 68 countries to sign up for the initial phase from 2021.

The letter noted: “The proposed taxation policy is at odds with the principles that underlie all of ICAO’s requirements regarding environmental levies.

“The ICAO Assembly Resolution stipulates that CORSIA is to be the sole market-based measure applying to CO2 emissions from international aviation.”

It added: “Intra-EU flights are already subject to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.”

However, the Corsia proposals have drawn criticism from the EC. Rasa Sceponaviciute, of the EC directorate general for Climate Action, said earlier this year: “Corsia is a start, but we don’t know how it will work. Stabilising aviation emissions from 2020 does not seem very ambitious.”

Sceponaviciute also criticised the use of offsetting by Corsia, saying: “We stopped accepting offsets because we don’t trust them. Some [offset] projects do not deliver reductions.”

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