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// Letter to Fine Gael on Travel Tax
Open Letter to:
Olivia Mitchell, Enda Kenny, Bernard Allen, James Bannon, Seán Barrett, Pat Breen, Richard Bruton, Ulick Burke, Catherine Byrne, Joe Carey, Deirdre Clune, Paul Connaughton, Noel J. Coonan, Simon Coveney, Seymour Crawford, Michael Creed, Lucinda Creighton, Michael D'Arcy, John Deasy, Jimmy Deenihan, Andrew Doyle, Bernard J. Durkan, Damien English, Olwyn Enright, Frank Feighan, Charles Flanagan, Terence Flanagan, Brian Hayes, Tom Hayes, Phil Hogan, Paul Kehoe, Pádraic McCormack, Shane McEntee, Dinny McGinley, Joe McHugh, Denis Naughten, Dan Neville, Michael Noonan, Kieran O'Donnell, Fergus O'Dowd, Jim O'Keeffe, John O'Mahony, John Perry, James Reilly, Michael Ring, Alan Shatter, Tom Sheahan, P. J. Sheehan, David Stanton, Billy Timmins, Leo Varadkar.
€10 Travel Tax and other air travel dis-incentives
We write with extreme concern over your proposed Private Members Bill to end the €10 air travel tax.
You will be aware that aviation is the most carbon-intensive means of travel and that it is a cross party commitment to address the issue of our unsustainable use of fossile fuels. This motion runs contrary to this commitment, which we expected you as elected Deputies to honour.
The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change put aviation emissions per passenger kilometre at 3 times rail and 4 times bus transport for domestic flights. It is triple that for long haul flights at high altitudes. According to Sustainable Energy Ireland statistics from air travel accounts for 17 percent of Irish transport energy use.
Aviation fuel remains entirely untaxed - itself an enormous competitive advantage - because we can reach no international agreement. In these circumstances, the only way that we can control consumer behaviour is through airport and travel taxes.
The removal of this travel tax would act as a further subsidy and encouragement for air travel on which current Irish Government policy is already spending many millions that could be used elsewhere for the benefit of our society rather than continuation of this unsustainable and damaging form of transport.
WE would draw your attention to a neglected Report commissioned by the Government in 2003 from DKM Consultants. This made it clear that
‘The issue for public policy is whether the benefits are commensurate with the now very substantial costs, and we are not aware of any studies or analyses which establish that this is so.'
The McCarthy Report echoed these comments:
The Group understands that regional airports have traditionally served a regional development purpose rather than a required transport purpose. However, the Group also notes that, in many instances, the Exchequer is backing the provision of the other new, much improved transport links (road, rail) to the same locations. With this in mind, and also considering the Government's developing climate change agenda and commitments under current and future international emissions agreements, the continued support of loss-making air services is unsustainable.
They recommend that we discontinue operational grants for regional airports when this schemes ends this year, discontinue the public service obligation payments for regional air services, and end capital grants for regional airports.
This would represent a saving of €17 million a year in Public Service Obligations and operational subsidies and much of the €86 million unspent in capital grants - about €100 million.
Finally, under EU Council Regulation No. 2408 of 1992, Governments are NOT permitted to subsidise air routes between regions "where other forms of transport can ensure an adequate and uninterrupted service when the capacity offered exceeds 30,000 seats per year".
The Government's spend of over €17 million a year to subsidise flights between Dublin and Derry, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Knock as well as Sligo is illegal to all these destination because public transport capacity to these destinations now exceeds 30,000 seats per annum.
We would urge you to consider your opposition on the air travel tax for these reasons and to support the DKM and McCarthy Reports to demonstrate your fiscal and environmental responsibility.
Friends of the Irish Environment
Caroline Lewis, Secretary