Government continues to score own goal by persisting with Air Travel Tax – BREEN

October 29th, 2009 - Pat Breen

Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen has accused the Government of scoring an “own goal” by persisting with the Air Travel tax. He said that the tax is now doing serious damage to our Tourism Industry and he is calling on the Finance Minister to axe the tax in the forthcoming budget before “Irreversible damage is done to our Tourism and Airline Industry”.

Deputy Breen’s comments follow the release of the latest CSO Overseas Travel Statistics for August 2009 which prompted Aer Lingus, Ryanair and CityJet to take the usual step of issuing joint statements calling on the Government to repeal the tax.

These figures show the extent of the crisis that is facing our Tourism Sector.

1. There were 596,400 fewer visitors to Ireland in 2009 compared to 2008.
2. There were 823,100 fewer visitors to Ireland in August 2009 compared to 2008 (Down 11.5%).
3. The UK Market is serious problem with 437,500 fewer UK visitors down a massive 16%.

“The reality is that there are far fewer visitors from the UK which traditionally was one of our biggest markets. I did a comparison on some UK routes into Shannon for July 2008 compared to July 2009 and the situation is very worrying.”

1. There were 4181 less visitors from the UK to Shannon on these routes from July 2008 to July 2009 and while the return of the London Heathrow service can in part explain the reduction in the London Standsted route with the exceptions of the Birmingham and Bristol routes all other UK routes are showing a decline in inward visitors to this Region.

According to Department of Finance figures which I have received a total of €57.9 million has been collected from this tax up to the end of September and it is very unlikely that the Government will now collect the €150 which they said it would when they introduced this measure in the December Budget.

“How other countries have addressed their declining tourism numbers is very different to the approach being taken by the Irish Government. In Holland for instance, they introduced a travel tax in June 2008 and when it became very clear that it was having a detrimental affect on their tourism industry, they got of rid of it in June 2009. The 15% collapse in their traffic improved as a result with a -6% and -3% per recorded for the months of August and September 2009.”

“The Airline Industry is struggling to survive at the moment and this week three airlines took the unprecedented step of issuing a joint statement calling on the Government to repeal the tax. Surely, the Government must sit up and take note.”

“In the Mid-West Region we have witnessed a serious decline in tourism figures and we have the threat hanging over of us of further reductions in services by both Aer Lingus and Ryan Air from Shannon Airport this winter.”

“It is clear to all and sundry that the Government is scoring an own goal by persisting with this tax and I would appeal to the Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan to axe this tax when he takes to his feet to announce the details of his latest Budget in December next, otherwise, irreversible damage will be done to our Tourism and Airline Industry.”

Dail Question No. 239

To ask the Minister for Finance the amount of moneys collected from airport charges and taxes for 2006, 2007, 2008 and up to the end of September 2009 by airport in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Pat Breen.
* For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 7th October, 2009.
Ref No: 34919/09

REPLY

Minister for Finance ( Mr Lenihan) : In relation to airport charges, this is a policy matter in the first instance for my colleague the Minister for Transport, under whose aegis the State airports fall. I am informed by the Department of Transport that such charges are set for Dublin Airport by the independent regulator, the Commission for Aviation Regulation, and for Shannon and Cork airports by the companies themselves according to their assessment of what is commercially viable. These charges provide direct income streams for the State airports and the cumulative amount of revenue arising from them is published each year in the Dublin Airport Authority’s annual report and financial statements.

In relation to airport taxes, it is assumed that the Deputy is referring to the air travel tax. The air travel tax was introduced with effect from 30 March 2009. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the air travel tax arising from travel undertaken in any month is payable by airline operators by the 23rd of the following month. The yields from the air travel tax received in the period from May to September 2009, in respect of travel undertaken during the months April to August 2009 are as follows:
Month Euro (M)
May 9.6
June 11.5
July 11.9
August 12.5
September 12.4
Total 57.9

In addition to the monthly payments of the tax, each airline operator is required to furnish a
detailed annual return to the Revenue Commissioners, which will include details of the number
of departures liable at each rate of the tax. The first annual returns, covering the period
30 March to 31 December 2009, are due to be provided by 23 February 2010.

DÁIL QUESTION

NO 240 & 241

To ask the Minister for Finance the amount collected to date in 2009 from the €10 air travel tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Pat Breen.
* For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 7th October, 2009.
Ref No: 34921/09

To ask the Minister for Finance if each individual airport passes on the €10 air travel tax collected on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Pat Breen.
* For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 7th October, 2009.
Ref No: 34923/09

REPLY

Minister for Finance ( Mr Lenihan) : I propose to take Questions Nos. 240 and 241together.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the air travel tax arising from travel undertaken in any month is payable by airline operators by the 23rd of the following month. The yields from the air travel tax received in the period from May to September 2009, in respect of travel undertaken during the months April to August 2009 are as follows:
Month €m
May 9.6
June 11.5
July 11.9
August 12.5
September 12.4
Total 57.9

In addition to the monthly payments of the tax, each airline operator is required to furnish a detailed annul return to the Revenue Commissioners, which will include details of the number of departures liable at each rate of the tax. The first annual returns, covering the period 30 March to 31 December 2009, are due to be provided by 23 February 2010.