Ryanair Slams Wallonia's Ticket Tax Plans
25 July 2013
Posted by: Author: Ulrika Lomas
Author: Ulrika Lomas
Budget airline Ryanair has warned that it will be compelled to reduce services from Charleroi airport by 17 percent, if the Walloon Government confirms its decision to introduce a tax on airline tickets in the Belgian region next year. Ryanair anticipates that such a move will lead to around 1,000 job losses at Charleroi airport in 2014, and result in over one million fewer Ryanair passengers annually.
The Walloon Government announced its intention recently to impose an airline ticket tax of EUR3 (USD3.96) on flights operating in the region from January 1, 2014. The measure is to be included within the framework of Wallonia's 2014 Budget, and forms part of local Government efforts to redress its regional finances.
Ryanair insists, however, that the proposed levy will merely have the same devastating impact as similar taxes introduced in other European Union (EU) member states, notably Ireland. Here, passenger numbers fell by over 24 percent, from 30 million passengers a year in 2007, to less than 23 million in 2012.
The Belgian Government ruled out the idea of a ticket tax back in 2008. Since then, passenger numbers at Charleroi airport have more than doubled, from 2.5 million to over 6 million passengers in 2013. Furthermore, the Dutch Government u-turned on its decision to introduce a passenger tax in 2008, shortly after the charge was introduced, having suffered losses totaling more than EUR1bn, due to individuals electing to fly from cheaper airports in neighbouring countries. Denmark also decided to abolish its passenger tax.
Commenting, Robin Kierly of Ryanair stressed that Wallonia's proposed "auto-destructive" fee will inevitably render the region less competitive. Studies throughout Europe have clearly demonstrated the harmful effect of per passenger taxes on both services and jobs, especially in Germany, Ireland, and the UK, Kierly explained. Concluding, Kierly alluded to the fact that other EU countries that have opted to abolish tourist taxes and to lower airport levies have been successful in returning to growth, insisting that it would be utter madness to ignore these facts.
Ryanair is the largest carrier in Wallonia, operating more than 80 percent of services at Charleroi. Last year, Ryanair carried 5.35 million passengers. Ryanair has called for an urgent meeting with the Walloon Government to resolve the issue.