Train passengers disadvantaged by flight tax when transferring to aircraft

Train passengers arriving at Schiphol and taking an intercontinental flight there must pay an air tax. Travelers who arrive by plane and change to another plane at Schiphol do not pay flight tax. KLM calls the tax plans a “mistake” and asks the government to correct them.

Schiphol and KLM have been working for a long time to reduce short flights to Schiphol. KLM recently started a pilot with Thalys. The aim is to offer travelers an easy transfer from the plane to the train. This is all stimulated by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. The ministry wants to promote the choice of the medium-distance train, up to 700 kilometers. The new flight tax scheme causes just the opposite.

Plans for next year’s tax plan are to be discussed on Monday. It has been agreed that the flight tax will be increased significantly. The fee will be 26.43 euros per departing travelers. Travelers changing to another flight at Schiphol are excluded from this, but travelers changing from, say, Thalys from Brussels still have to pay an air tax for the transfer.

CDA Member of Parliament Inge van Dijk wants to know from State Secretary Marnix van Rij (Finance) whether it is not possible to exempt transfer passengers via train from the air passenger tax: “Would we not prefer to encourage that?”, she asks the State Secretary.

KLM also announces that the tax plans must be adjusted in favor of the train passenger. “KLM would like as many customers as possible to travel by train from, for example, Brussels to Schiphol to switch to a distant KLM flight. In this way, short-haul flights can be replaced by the train, something the government is also striving for. The current structure of air passenger tax has the unintended side effect of requiring transfer passengers arriving by train to pay air passenger tax. It would be good if this mistake in the tax plan was rectified,” a KLM spokesman told De Telegraaf on Monday.

Short flights

Currently, four public flights take off daily in Amsterdam with Brussels as the final destination. This is one flight less than before the collaboration with Thalys. There is still much to do to boost the medium-distance train. KLM CEO Bas Geressen recently indicated that baggage handling needs to be improved. So now comes the disadvantageous tax scheme.

In addition, the flights between Amsterdam and Brussels are not just disappearing, says Gerressen. “There are many misunderstandings among politicians and the general public about short-haul flights. The short flights are necessary for the supply of travelers that fill KLM’s intercontinental fleet. I often hear people think that there are people who fly from Brussels to Amsterdam to shop there. It’s not true. Almost everyone who flies with us from Brussels has a connection at Schiphol to the rest of the world, for example the USA, Peru or South Africa,’ concludes the KLM director.

Private short-haul flights are not just being replaced by the train. Figures from the independent analysis agency CE Delft show that more than a third of private flights are shorter than 500 kilometers. 11 percent of the flights were even shorter than 250 kilometers. According to the researchers, the emissions per passenger are many times higher than on a scheduled flight. For example, a flight from Schiphol to London with an ordinary plane leads to around 40 kilos of CO2 emissions per passenger. With a private plane, it is between 203 and 302 kilos. So five to more than seven times as high.

The researchers emphasize in the report that London and Paris, the most popular cities, can also be reached by high-speed rail. Unlike airplanes, they do not emit CO2.

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