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KLM Criticizes Dutch Government’s Plan to Tax Schiphol Travelers

The new proposal is the latest attempt from the Dutch government to put restrictions on air passengers in its drive for net-zero

by Lauren Smith

September 27, 2023

Photo: KLM, Boeing 777-300ER at Amsterdam Schiphol. Courtesy of KLM

Passengers flying through Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS) could face a tax surcharge under new proposals from the Dutch government, a plan sharply criticized by KLM.

The Dutch House of Representatives has approved a motion to impose a new state tax on travelers transferring at the country’s main airport.

Travelers whose journeys originate or terminate at Dutch airports pay a state tax of $28.20 in each direction. Passengers connecting through Schipol, a major hub for KLM and gateway to Europe for many travelers, are exempt from the tax.

Photo: Amsterdam-Schiphol. Courtesy of Roger Cremers

The new proposals, which still must voted on by the Dutch Senate, would apply a similar tax to those transferring flights, including passengers of private jets.

If that tax is set to a similar level as the tax paid by originating airline customers, it could add $56.40 to the price of a one-way journey connecting through Schipol.

According to airport data, around 36% of the 40.7 million travelers who passed through Schipol Airport between January and August of this year were transferred to other flights.

The government said the funds raised by the tax would be used to lower energy costs for Dutch households.

KLM CEO Against the Tax Proposal

However, Dutch flag carrier KLM has cautioned that the proposals push travelers and airlines away from Schipol to other European airports.

KLM CEO and president Marjan Rintel branded the tax proposals “incomprehensible and very worrying” in a Friday blog post.

Photo: Marjan Rintel, CEO at KLM. Courtesy of KLM

“It is at the expense of the connections of the Netherlands with the rest of the world. We are the first and only country in the world where this tax is on the table. It would mean that only passengers traveling via Schiphol would pay extra money on their flight ticket, while this would not apply to other European airports,” she wrote.

Rintel said six out of ten KLM customers passing through the airport are connecting to other flights. According to an independent analysis by consultancy CE Delft, a new tax could reduce the number of transfer passengers at the airport by up to a third (34%), reducing KLM’s revenue.

Photo: Courtesy of Amsterdam-Schiphol. Airport

She said the tax would come on top of new climate levies added to tickets in January, increasing prices by €80 to €100.

“With this, you stack tax on tax and chase passengers away to airports abroad. That does not ensure cleaner aviation,” Rintel wrote. “Moreover, there is a chance for Dutch passengers that you can no longer fly directly to certain destinations from Schiphol,” she added.

She also noted that the Dutch cabinet rejected a proposed tax on transfer passengers in July over concerns it would harm the country’s economy and reduce the Netherlands’ connections to the rest of the world.

The proposed tax isn’t KLM’s only obstacle at its home airport. Earlier this month, the Dutch government announced its plans to cap the number of flight movements at Schipol to reduce noise pollution for nearby residents.

From next year, flight movements will be capped at 452,500 per year, 9.5% lower than 2019. KLM, alongside several other airlines such as Delta and easyJet, legally challenged the cap but lost the case in the Dutch court system.