According to a report, the Dutch government intends to impose taxes on shipments flown in cargo aircraft. If okayed, this would be extremely detrimental to the competitiveness of both
Schiphol and Maastricht Airports, warns the investigative report.
The air cargo industry hopes that the taxation will either be delayed or scrapped altogether.
The cargo tax is part of a larger piece of legislation on aviation taxation which is planned to be put into force by 1 January 2021 but may be postponed due to the Covid-19 crisis.
The tax will range from €3.85 per ton MTOW for the noisiest aircraft to €1,925 per ton MTOW for the quieter ones. Belly cargo is exempted, which is seen as most discriminating by the industry.
From the very beginning, the introduction of tax plan has been contested by the air cargo stakeholders, especially since Amsterdam’s full freighter business was already hampered by slot scarcity.
This is the reason why the Secretary of State for Finance Hans Vijlbrief earlier this year commissioned a study on the effects of the tax for the Dutch air cargo sector and the position of the Netherlands as a hotspot for logistics.
The research was carried out by specialized bureaus SEO and Districon and was based on interviews with 18 stakeholders. Apart from the two airports, a great number of airlines, freight forwarders, independent consultants, and the umbrella organisation Air Cargo Netherlands (ACN), gave input.
The final draft of the report is to be discussed by the ‘Tweede Kamer’ of Parliament before ‘Prinsjesdag’ on 15 September, when the King in his state of the realm both looks back on the past political year and gives an outline of the government policy of the year to come.
The Dutch trade paper Nieuwsblad Transport has, however, been able to lay its hands on the report. Contacted by CargoForwarder Global, ACN’s managing director Maarten van As says that the organization does not wish to comment on the content of a leaked report. He has, however, no problem with admitting that ACN, together with Maastricht Aachen Airport set up a strong lobby to demand a report on the effects of the cargo tax on the Dutch airports.
“In this respect, we enjoy the support of the Council of State, which had already commented on the ‘leakage effect’ the taxation would create, forcing air cargo operations to airports across the border.”
According to Mr van As, ACN also protests the fact that the €200 million the tax is supposed to generate, will be absorbed totally by the treasury and will not be reinvested in environmental measures.
“It contradicts all the measures Schiphol Airport has taken over the last few years to attract more environmental-friendly aircraft,” he says. “Eventually all this cargo will have to be trucked to the Netherlands, adding to the environmental damage.”
Bad for Maastricht
According to the leaked information in the report, the tax would raise landing fees by 28 to 57%, depending on the aircraft type. In all, the total cost of the handling operation of a freighter would rise from 6.5 to 8%.
The report seems to indicate that the tax will further undermine the already precarious position of full freighter flights at the Dutch airports, which have already been hampered by the said lack of capacity.
The tax would be especially disastrous for Maastricht Aachen Airport, which is even more vulnerable due to its geographical position close to the airports of Liege and Brussels.
Since the final effects of the Covid-19 crisis on the aviation sector have not been fully assessed, ACN hopes for the tax to be delayed or even scrapped. The organization may find some support in Parliament.
Liberal MP Remco Dijkstra told CargoForwarder Global that the aviation taxation has passed all the procedures, but that the implementation date has been delayed until further notice due to the pandemic.
Mr Dijkstra confirms the imminent publication of the report, stating that air cargo had been given too little attention in the original policy making. “As soon as the report has been delivered, the cabinet can reassess when implementation is appropriate or not. I expect that 2021 will be too early and I will most certainly not deplore that.”
“The effects on trade and transport are enormous and may cost a lot of jobs. The planed benefits are quite doubtful, as passenger traffic has been halved and cargo too has been hit quite severely,” Mr Dijkstra says.
Marcel Schoeters in Amsterdam
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