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Austria has become the latest European nation to announce
the imposition of a flight departure tax. The tax, unveiled last Saturday, will
be €8 for flights within Europe and €40 for flights beyond.
Austria's ruling federal coalition unveiled the departure
fee as part of a wider austerity package of new taxes, including on petrol, and
spending cuts. It follows the introduction of departure fees ranging between €8
and €45 by the German government on Sept. 1. The United Kingdom, Ireland and
France have similar charges in place, although the latter's tax is much smaller
than the others.
The Association of European Airlines reacted with dismay to
the news from Austria. Last year, the airline industry believed it had successfully
stemmed the introduction of taxation on aviation when the Dutch government
scrapped its departure tax after it was blamed for passengers switching their
point of departure to neighboring countries. The Belgian government was also
persuaded to abandon similar plans.
"We are horrified by this, but it is hardly unexpected
in light of the horrendous budget deficits around Europe," AEA spokesman
David Henderson told BTN today. "Europe
is recovering slower than the rest of the world, so the last thing we want is
to be burdened by even more taxation. It severely impacts the ability of
European businesses to export sales and import customers."
The tax was announced just days after flag carrier Austrian
Airlines, owned by Lufthansa, unveiled passenger figures of 1.1 million for
September, up 11 percent from the same month in 2009.