Ireland Retains Air Travel Tax

THE IRISH Government has announced that it will retain the €3 air travel tax in a bid to stimulate the country’s economy and tourism.  The tax, applied to passengers leaving Irish airports, was reduced for long-haul passengers from €10 to its current level in December 2010, while the government has suggested that it may be removed completely if airlines made assurances to reinstate cancelled routes and restore dropped capacity.
“I could not agree to foregoing significant revenues in taxes without a solid commitment from the airlines on the restoration of key inbound routes and capacity,” said Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar.  He added that the new routes that had been offered “were predominantly to Mediterranean hotspots, which would actually have taken many more people out of the country than they would have brought in.”
The decision attracted criticism from low-cost carrier Ryanair, which claims to have made a commitment to bringing an additional 5 million passengers per year over a five-year period, though Varadkar has confirmed that the tax will be reviewed again in spring 2012.  Some €8.5 million of the revenue generated by the tax will be used to support inbound tourism in cooperation with airlines, ferry companies, tour operators and airports.