The Dutch government has decided to triple the flight tax starting from 2023. With the introduction of the initial €7,45 tax on plane tickets in January 2021, the new cabinet decided to further increase the tax to around €30. In the briefing by Sigrid Kaag (Minister of Finance) on the “recovery and resilience plan,” it is emphasised that the new cabinet aims to make flying less attractive. How does the tripling of tax resonate with the new cabinet-Rutte IV goals? And does this foster inequality in society? Read further to find out.
The new cabinet-Rutte IV is sworn in on 10 January 2022. The cabinet exists out of VVD (Liberal), D66 (Social-liberal), CDA (Christian-democrats) and ChristenUnie (Christian-democratic) and has the majority in the house of representatives. The main goals for these four years of reign are to address societal challenges and focus on concrete improvements for the citizens. These are tackling climate change, realising new buildings, reducing Co2 emissions, and investing in equality and diversity.
Tripling the flight tax is therefore fitting in the theme of climate awareness and the green agenda. While the coalition already decided on the new flight tax which was estimated to triple to €24, recently it became clear that this got increased by a couple of euros totalling €28,58. In 2020, an opinion poll by research agency I&O research was carried out on behalf of Milieudefensie, which showed that 69% of the Dutch people are in favour of the introduction of a progressive flight tax. This entails that the more often you fly, the more you pay per a ticket. However, this is not the case with this new regulation and will be solely a steep increase in the price of the plane ticket.
Not only is increasing the flight tax a solution to decrease the number of aircraft users, but the tax money is directly going to the government. The goal is to increase the revenue of the flight tax from €200 million per year to €600 million. According to the government, this increase in revenue will go to making aviation more sustainable and reduce the impact on the living environment of airports. Many residents around Schiphol have been complaining for a long time about the many health effects.
The flight tax is only noticeable for passengers departing from Dutch airports. This tax does not apply to arrivals and transfers. Children under the age of two years are also excepted to pay the flight tax. Although flying from Dutch airports becomes more expensive, according to the cabinet the short-term consequences will be relatively limited. The long-term governmental incentive with the application of flight tax is to let people reconsider their choice. The government believes this will result in higher usage of non-airborne transportation and thus a decrease in Co2 emissions. However, people might cross the border to neighbouring countries such as Belgium or Germany to fly cheaper.
The opposition parties (e.g. PVV and FVD (right-wing populist)) in the house of representatives argue that this flight tax only results in more inequality in society. Wilders, party leader of the PVV, argues that only the poor people will feel this tax. Whereas rich people keep flying around Europe for their business meetings, the poor cannot afford to go on their yearly holiday. According to Wilders, this implementation of tax only results in further inequality and gives the advantage to people who can afford to keep flying.
Commuting to the Netherlands by plane stays the say, however, when travelling from the Netherlands to another country one should expect to pay an increased tax. Starting in 2023, this tax is mainly felt by frequent travellers for business meetings and partnerships. If you are in this situation, the government argues to consider switching to Zoom or VooV to attend meetings, take the train, or minimalize the number of business trips. In other light, one can also calculate the increase in costs and keep flying. While it might not be the best for the climate, we all know how convenient it can be.