Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (SPL) could lose 25% of its cargo flights and Maastricht Aachen Airport (MST) may cease to exist as a cargo airport altogether if the Dutch government persists in introducing a cargo tax. This is made clear in the finally published research report set up to measure the effects of the tax on air cargo. So far, the government has maintained a profound silence on the results.
The tax would be levied on departing freighters (belly cargo is exempted) based on MTOW. For the B777-200LRF, the most frequently used freighter type, this would mean € 1,338 per departing
flight, for the B747-400F € 1,551 per flight, for the B7487-8F € 862, and for the A330-220F € 897.
If the tax per flight is divided by the total cargo volume (both in and out), the average tax would vary between 0.6 eurocent/kg at MST for a B747-8F, and 1.7 eurocent/kg for a B777-200LRF. At SPL, these rates are slightly lower, given the higher load factor per aircraft: 0.6 cent /kg for the B747-8F and 1.3 eurocent/kg for the A330-200F.
Higher cargo rates and airport fees
When these tax figures are passed on to the air cargo rates, the latter would increase by an average of 0.3-0.7% at SPL, and by 0.7-1.1% at MST. Airport fees would rise by 28%-46% in MST, and by 38%-57% at SPL. This would make MST and SPL more expensive than FRA and CDG. BRU and LUX are cheaper already today. LHR, CGN, and LGG will still be more expensive, but the difference will be smaller.
The researchers also elaborated on first and second order effects. The ‘first order effects’ are the consequences of the initial reactions in demand when shippers facing a cost increase for cargo transport may opt for other airports or modes. These appear to be relatively limited.
Out goes Maastricht
‘Second order effects’ appear when airlines decide to wholly or partly move their operation to airports abroad. This may lead to an erosion of the hub function for air cargo, with forwarders moving their consolidation and distribution centers elsewhere. According to the report, the risk of airlines moving out would be higher for Maastricht than for Schiphol.
Maastricht is much more vulnerable as, for cargo transport, it is focused on freighters only. On top of this, it has Liege Airport in its backyard, with both Brussels and Cologne-Bonn not too far away.
“In order to keep airlines, Maastricht has to distinguish itself by combining an outstanding service level with a competitive cost level. An aviation tax would make this impossible,” the researchers claim. Eventually, the tax would wipe out any air cargo activity at the airport. Amsterdam Schiphol may lose 25% of its freighter flights. That would lead to an 11.8% drop of the cargo volume. In all, the Dutch airports could lose up to 366,000 tons by 2030. Up to 6,500 jobs could be in jeopardy.
Industry in limbo
The Co² emissions on the Dutch airports would drop by between 0.9 megatons and 1.1 megatons by 2030. As cargo flights will have moved to other hubs, the effects on the global Co² emissions will be nil. On top of that, road transport emissions may rise due to increased RFS.
“The report clearly demonstrates that the sustainability effects of the air cargo tax would be zero,” say Air Cargo Netherlands, TLN (logistics sector) and Fenex (forwarders). So far, these logistics organizations are completely in limbo on the question if the tax will be introduced or not.
“That is the question nobody dares to ask,” says ACN’s Managing Director, Maarten van As. “Last Tuesday, some €80 million to be generated by the aviation tax appears to have been booked into the 2021 Budget. Not a word has been spent on the cargo tax and the additional research with all the effects mentioned above!”
“The report was ‘thrown over the fence’ on ‘Prinsjesdag’ [the Dutch government’s State of the Union, ms] and a general Parliamentary letter only mentioned that the research had been carried out. At all levels we are trying to find out what is happening and if there will be delay or cancellation, but I do not expect this to be clear by early next week. In the meantime, we are preparing our communication to the Senate, which will discuss the legislation next week.”
Marcel Schoeters in Amsterdam
We always welcome your comments to our articles. However, we can only publish them when the sender name is authentic.