Five of Ireland’s regional airports have issued a joint letter to the Finance Minister, Mr. Brian Lenihan T.D., requesting an urgent review and amendments to several measures contained in the proposed new Air Travel Tax.
Ireland West Knock, Donegal, Galway, Sligo and Waterford airports are strongly opposed to the proposed new Air Travel Tax as outlined in the recent budget announcement. The Group views this tax as inequitable and a retrograde step which will have serious consequences for the tourism and aviation industries as a whole, as well as for businesses reliant on air travel from regional airports to sustain and develop their businesses and the local economy.
Ireland West Airport Knock Chief Executive Robert Grealis comments: “It is essential that Minister Lenihan and our government representatives consult with the regional airports in particular on this issue and recognize that Ireland’s regions rely on tourism to a far greater extent than in Dublin which is supported by many other industries. Given that the regions have a small fraction of the overall air capacity in Ireland, the government needs to ensure that the existing air capacity we’ve worked so hard to win is not lost as airlines will chose to fly to high population city destinations in Europe over Ireland’s regions. The West and North West region in particular is very much underserved with flights having just 3% of the total departing passenger market in Ireland and therefore an amendment abolishing the tax from the regional airports serving this catchment will have negligible affects on the overall revenue targets projected by the Government. On the contrary, the benefits of making the amendments we are suggesting far outweigh the inevitable loss of revenue to our region’s economy.”
The Regional Airports state that the tax further marginalises regions and runs contrary to the Government’s stated policy on balanced regional development. It provides positive discrimination to Dublin Airport and as such is anti-competitive by effectively incentivising passengers to use it in preference to regional airports when travelling to and from some key destinations in the UK. It also seeks to make airports the collector of taxes, a system which is unworkable and outside of the remit of airports. The Regional Airports jointly request that these two measures in particular are removed from the proposed new Air Travel Tax prior to its enactment in legislation.
The Regional Airports also call on Government to review its proposed implementation of this tax. Air access is a critical component of our current and future economic sustainability and development which requires support and investment not additional taxation. This proposed Air Tax will only serve to place the country, especially its regions, at a significant disadvantage when competing in the global marketplace for business and tourism. The introduction of this proposed tax, at a time when the aviation industry is already in the midst of a severe economic downturn globally, will have very detrimental consequences for the industry and the economy as a whole, but particularly in the regions. The Group calls upon the Government to withdraw this tax.
The Regional Airports Group will work positively with all stakeholders to find an equitable solution that is in the best interest of the Irish economy as a whole and for Ireland’s regions in particular.