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11/1 Jurists want to stay in Oudemanhuispoort

8/2 Mayor’s portrait

8/2 Websites for social cohesion

7/2 Spreading tourism proceeds with difficulty

7/2 GroenLinks on districts: Be a man

6/2 Zuideramstel opens new office on Sabbath

5/2 The truth about integration

4/2 Wilders has little support on Amsterdam

3/2 Elite involved in neighbourhood

2/2 Johnnie Walker avoids taxes in Amsterdam

1/2 Rotterdam to tinker with district councils as well

31/1 Wooden rowing boats to disappear from Amstel

31/1 ZeeburgTV launched

27/1 Privacy activists to mess up loyalty card system

27/1 A few were still coughing, but that was an act

27/1 Chrisis in de Baarsjes

26/1 Youth have positive view of districts

24/1 Action groups call for Carmel and Jaffa boycott

24/1 PvdA members dismiss plan for districts

23/1 KLM takes on crisis with new uniform

23/1 District office not squatted

21/1 Merge districts

20/1 Closing squat bar Vrankrijk not necessary

20/1 Cleaners welcome new Schiphol director

18/1 Palestine at the Jewish Historical Museum

18/1 What is the right size for a district?

17/1 PvdA Oost against fewer districts

16/1 Committee: 7 districts by 2010

15/1 Soldiers may attend Afghanistan debate after all

15/1 Bait bike leads to arrest

14/1 Youth for Christ to republish vacancies

13/1 Paintings of the Zuidas

13/1 New Youth for Christ contoversy

11/1 Social cohesion initiative raises eyebrows

10/1 Fewer districts in 2010

10/1 Zuidas: People feel that we are losers

9/1 Fun on the ice - but not for all

9/1 Supermarket coupon fraud thwarted

9/1 I Amsterdam must remain exclusive

8/1 Use term Apartheid in every discussion

8/1 No city kiosk in Amsterdam yet

7/1 Snow

7/1 Fatima Elatik to run Zeeburg

7/1 Municipal managers to return to shop floor

4/1 Police: take photo of strange people

3/1 Gaza protest criticises politicians

1/1 Thousands to protest against attacks on Gaza

1/1 Mustapha Laboui leaves district council


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Schiphol hides behind competitors

2 March 2008 - Next Wednesday, the court in the Hague will hear a complaint by Schiphol Airport against the new flight tax. Schiphol claims it will lose market share to other European airports. Meanwhile, Heathrow and Frankfurt complain they will lose passengers to Schiphol rather than the other way around, if they do not get their way.

At present, the Netherlands does not levy any taxes on international flights. As of 1 July, short distance passengers will have to pay a €11.25 tax on a return ticket, whereas long distance passengers will be charged €45.00. The UK and France already have similar taxes.

Even though the competitive transit flights are exempted, Schiphol claims the tax will affect its competitiveness. “In 2008, Schiphol will lose market share in terms of passengers and air traffic to other large airports in Europe”, CEO Gerlach Cerfontaine warned. He argues this is not just bad for the economy, but also for the environment, “for it is obvious that many people will go to airports abroad”.

One of the airports that expect to draw passengers from the Netherlands is Brussels Airport. However, a spokesperson told Luchtvaartnieuws that he does not think the flight tax will play a role in this: “Travel costs [to the airport] will often exceed the tax”.

Nevertheless, Kales Airline Services and Ethiopian Airlines yesterday started a pilot shuttle bus service from Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Breda to Brussels. A return ticket costs thirty euro.

Meanwhile, foreign airports say they will lose passengers to Schiphol rather than the other way around, unless they are allowed to expand. Brussels itself is constructing a new terminal for low-cost carriers for that reason; Frankfurt wants night flights and London Heathrow wants a new runway.

In September last year, a broad coalition of business lobby groups in Germany warned that thousands of jobs are at stake if no night flights are allowed at Frankfurt Airport. “All the important European airports outside Germany that Frankfurt has to compete with (Amsterdam, Paris, London) guarantee the operation of the economically indispensable night flights”, the lobbyists said.

Heathrow is said to need a new runway in order to compete with Schiphol and Paris - Charles de Gaulle. “If Heathrow is allowed to become uncompetitive, the flights and routes it operates will simply move elsewhere”, Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly told the Observer, echoing the argument made by Schiphol’s Cerfontaine. “All it will do is shift capacity over the Channel. It will make us feel pure, but with no benefit to the rest of the planet”.

A spokesperson of employers’ organisation CBI agrees. “If a managing director can’t fly to China via London, he might go via Amsterdam for his connecting flight”. As a result, global companies might decide to move their headquarters and research facilities to Amsterdam. “If you’ve got UK-based managing directors flying to Amsterdam every night, in the end the company might think about basing everything there too”, he told the Observer.

Apparently, airports are hiding behind each other to avoid having to comply with restrictions. “Of course they do”, says Evert Hassink of Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth). “We have been saying so for decades. Airports are creating the false impression that they are suffering losses whereas in fact they are highly profitable”. Milieudefensie is campaigning for a European excise duty on aircraft fuel in addition to the flight tax.

Milieudefensie, Luchtvaartnieuws (in Dutch), Frankfurt lobby, the Observer


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