Airline chiefs say green tax 'disaster' will punish passengers


The Irish Independent has reported that Irish airlines have reacted angrily to a new green tax that will add an estimated 56 to the cost of a family holiday.

Aer Lingus has written to MEPs and TDs to complain that the environmental levy will be 'potentially disastrous' for the Irish public. Ryanair has also dismissed the new environmental levy that the European Commission is set to rubberstamp this week as a 'scam'.

The proposed new charges on airlines are expected to add an extra 14.50 to the cost of a return flight. They are designed to cut the airlines' greenhouse gas emissions. MEPS will debate the new plan, known as the emissions trading scheme, this week. The scheme will hit all airlines to and from EU airports when it becomes law.

In a letter to Irish politicians and the Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Aer Lingus CEO Dermot Mannion claimed the new scheme is "ill -timed" and "ill-conceived" and ignored the fact that Irish passengers, as an island-based community, are dependent on air transport.

He said the "one-sided" scheme is not matched by the US and would, therefore, put European airlines at a disadvantage. "There will be no alternative but to recharge the costs to passengers with no obvious benefit to the environment" - he said. "For Aer Lingus, we estimated the net cost will be 39m in 2012 and this could jump to over 205m in the period 2013 to 2016.

"At a time of unprecedented oil prices and a very uncertain outlook for the aviation industry, it is incomprehensible that such costs could be imposed" - he added.

Ryanair said it was opposed to any environmental tax 'because it does nothing for the environment'. "It's just a scam by the EU to steal more money from our passengers" - said a company spokesperson.

Senior aviation executives recently warned that the rising cost of oil was already threatening the future of low-cost air travel. They said that firms could go bust if the new plan is allowed to further push-up costs.

A compromise was reached between EU governments on the new plan last month. The European Parliament is set to ratify the scheme on Wednesday. Airlines will then be forced to pay for the greenhouse gases they emit via a complex licensing system known as 'carbon permits''.

Every airline will be allocated a ceiling - based on their emissions between 2004 and 2006. In 2012, the cap will be 97pc of this level - falling to 95pc cent the following year. Carriers wanting to go above their permitted threshold will have to buy carbon credits to do so.

Even those who stay below their agreed ceiling will have to buy permits for 15pc of the carbon output, with the money going to national governments. It is estimated that this would cost the aviation industry 3.5bn a year - 7 per ticket or, roughly, 14.50 for a return flight.

Source - The Irish Independent