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Dutch authorities face court challenge to environmental tax

ATW Daily News by Cathy Buyck 8 Feb.07

Dutch government is facing parallel lawsuits challenging its plan to levy a new environmental ticket tax on all passengers departing from domestic airports (see below ATWOnline, Oct. 2, 2007). The tax, which comes into effect July 1, amounts to 11.25 ($16.59) per passenger for EU destinations (with some exceptions) inside 2,500 km. and 45 for other flights. Amsterdam's Schiphol Group, together with Dutch travel bureau association ANVR, launched legal action to prevent the tax, while The Board of Airline Representatives in the Netherlands filed a separate though similar injunction request. The hearing is scheduled for March 5 at the Court of Justice in The Hague.

All three parties argue the tax violates Article 15 of the Chicago Convention, which states that "No fees, dues or other charges shall be imposed by any contracting state in respect solely of the right of transit over, or entry into or exit from the territory of any aircraft of a contracting state or persons or property thereon." In addition, they claim the Dutch government is wrong to claim the tax is "environmental" because it serves no particular environmental purpose. Moreover, BARIN notes, "within a short period of time, an EU-wide environmental measure for air traffic is expected: The Emission Trade System in 2012. KLM and Schiphol Airport have suggested to introduce a similar system in the Netherlands on a voluntary basis. . .but this has been rejected by the government for unclear reasons."

The trio claims the economic disadvantages of the ticket tax likely will be enormous. Netherlands is a small country and the tax will drive passengers to fly from nearby airports in Belgium and Germany. Independent research acknowledged by the government forecasts a drop in passengers in 2011 of 8%-10% at Schiphol and 11%-13% at other Dutch airports.

ATWOnline, Oct. 2, 2007
AEA sounds off on Dutch tax proposal
Assn. of European Airlines once again condemned the Dutch government's decision to impose a travel tax on passengers departing from the country's airports from July 1, 2008. The new duty is, according to the Finance Ministry, "part of a 'greening' of taxation" with a shift from taxes on labor and profits to environmental pollution. But revenue from what AEA called a "money-raising measure masquerading as an environmental tax" will not be used for environmental purposes or for infrastructure that could reduce aviation's environmental impact, the organization claimed.

"The next big leap forward in environmental performance should come from the rationalization of European airspace--the Single Sky project--which would eliminate wasteful and inefficient flight routings. This new tax will contribute nothing to that process," AEA Secretary General Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus blasted. "What it will do is to persuade Dutch travelers to jump in their cars and drive to airports in nearby countries, where passengers are not discriminated against in this way." Last month, easyJet CEO Andy Harrison confirmed to ATWOnline that the LCC might move a "big part" of its traffic from Amsterdam to Brussels if the tax is introduced AMS is one the carrier's larger bases with 11 destinations.

The ticket tax will be 11.25 ($16.05) per segment for intra-EU flights or flights up to 2,500 km. and 45 for longer journeys. Transfer passengers are excluded from the tax measure, as are commercial cargo flights. The Board of Airline Representatives in the Netherlands fears that the tax will jeopardize some 12,000 jobs in the aviation industry alone. The Dutch parliament is due to debate the levy in mid-November.

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