Flying to the Netherlands Just Got Cheaper Thanks to Scrapped Eco Tax

Environmentalists aren’t going to be happy to hear that the so-called “eco tax” imposed by the Dutch government is going away. Why? It’s all about the numbers.

The tax ranged from 11 euros to 45 euros depending upon the length of your flight. It was supposed to Netherlands Mapraise about 300 million euros a year, but an official report says it will end up costing the economy more than 1.3 billion euros. At a time when economies around the world are scrambling to find revenues, ditching the tax was a pretty obvious result.

So did people really just stop traveling over a few euros? Nah. I’m sure there was some of that, but the problem was that people could easily hop a border into Belgium or Germany where there was no tax. In an area where distances are short, trains are fast, and there are no controlled border crossings, this tax is just a really dumb idea. Instead of saving the environment, the Dutch hurt their own economy and shifted traffic elsewhere. Brilliant.

So is this the end of the eco tax? I doubt it. My guess is that in the short haul, while the world is trying to claw out of a recession, there won’t be a ton of interest in increasing taxes that will end up hurting the economy, but that’s a short term issue. In the long run, all this does is make it clear that at least an EU-wide solution and potentially a global one is necessary instead of an individual country-sponsored one.

There are still taxes in the UK and Ireland, but those may survive since it’s a lot harder to cross a border to avoid flying from there. Italy has one too, but well, that’s Italy. I can never figure out what they’re going to do over there, and it’s usually the opposite of what I would do.

You should probably consider this a temporary reprieve. One of these days, we’ll see an EU-wide or global scheme to try to address this issue (beyond the EU ETS proposal scheduled for 2012), but that will be at least a couple years away.


5 Responses to Flying to the Netherlands Just Got Cheaper Thanks to Scrapped Eco Tax

  1. I wouldn’t be too sure about Brits not hopping the Channel (or the Irish border) to avoid Air Passenger Duty. In premium classes you can avoid £80 APD for a longhaul flight by buying a cheap shorthaul feeder to, say, FRA or AMS. The bizzare thing is, you may well find yourself connecting again in London (transfer traffic pays no APD).

  2. Oliver says:

    I sort of doubt that I’d travel to Cologne or Duesseldorf instead of flying out of Amsterdam if Amsterdam was significantly closer/more convenient to get to. An 11 Euro tax wouldn’t pay for the train ticket, let alone the inconvenience.

  3. David SF east bay says:

    There are to many taxes in a lot of countries and Europe has a lead in this area. Those (equivalent) USD9.00 fares that Ryanair and other carriers match have can cost USD300.00 once you add all the country taxes in. That is just stupid on two fronts. One, no one can make money on a USD9.00 fare since the taxes go to the government, and two, countries are just going to tax crazy as a away of getting money. And it’s not just a country tax, some are per city also, and each city can have a different tax. In some countries even if you are just in transit can have a tax so it can make a different which airline you take on what your fare will be. They may all publish the same fare from point A to point C, but if you have to connect, then point B can be costly depending on the airline you chose and what country they connect via.

    And don’t even get me started on the airline scaming ‘Fuel surcharge’.

  4. Irv says:

    I can’t imagine “hopping a border into Belgium or Germany” if I was in Amsterdam just to save a few Euros. I’d spend that money and more, not to mention time, getting to another hub–it’s not THAT close. I really think most travelers are more influenced by convenience when choosing a flight hub than the question of an 11 to 45 Euro tax appended to their ticket. But maybe that’s just me. I do agree, though, that piling tax upon tax to an airfare can be daunting and discouraging to travelers when they see what was a discount flight ticket turn into half their paycheck, and might just push more than a few to opt for the train instead. In other words, the problem is larger than one single eco-tax charge.

  5. CF says:

    We have to remember here that not everyone in the Netherlands is in Amsterdam. There are people in the east who might find a trip to Dusseldorf to be relatively painless, for example. This isn’t a city-specific issue but rather a country-wide one.

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