News

New tax to push up cost of Dutch flights

16 Apr 2008 by Mark Caswell

Flights from the Netherlands will become more expensive from July 1 when an “environmental” tax comes into effect.

The Dutch government stands to make €350 million a year from this new departure tax. It means each passenger departing Amsterdam Schiphol or Rotterdam will have to pay a tax of €11, while those flying long-haul (a distance of 2,500km or more) must find €45.

This tax will apply to passengers flying to and from Holland, so it will apply equally to travellers booking return flights, say, from Amsterdam to London, as well as London to Amsterdam.

It will add about 8 per cent to the cost of KLM’s cheapest day-return price between Heathrow and Amsterdam. According to klm.com, the cheapest day-trip fare for travel on Monday June 30 is £146. But if a passenger books the same flight on or after Tuesday July 1, the price increases to £157.

However, passengers who change planes in Amsterdam for onward destinations will escape the tax. This is important for national airline KLM because its business model is built around flying passengers via, rather than to and from, Amsterdam and the tax would have made its prices less competitive.

The departure tax had been opposed by Schiphol airport and ANVR (the association of Dutch travel agents), but a court in The Hague recently upheld the government’s tax, paving the way for it to take effect from July.

The Association of European Airlines (AEA) dismissed the Dutch government’s claims that there is a green motive behind the tax. An AEA spokesperson said: “This is a money-raising measure masquerading as an environmental tax.”

The AEA also believes that some passengers might choose to avoid the tax by departing from airports in neighbouring countries. For example, travellers living or working near the border areas might find Antwerp, Brussels and Dusseldorf as convenient as Rotterdam or Amsterdam Schiphol.

Report by Alex McWhirter

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