Island-hopping between Ireland’s offshore isles will be exempt from the Government’s controversial new air travel tax, it emerged today.
Passengers will not be charged if they fly from the mainland to the four offshore islands which currently have air strips.
Flights between Inis Mor, Inis Meain, Inis Oirr off Co Galway and Inishbofin off Co Mayo will also be unaffected.
Gaeltacht Minister Eamon O Cuiv said the exemption would protect valuable business and tourist revenue to these islands.
He added: “Many of these air services are regular and islanders have come to depend on them to go about their daily and weekly business.
“Ferry crossings are not always available due to weather conditions so I welcome this exemption.”
The €10 tax, which will apply to all Irish airports from March 30, also has a smaller €2 charge for journeys under 300km.
Finance Minister Brian Lenihan aims to recoup €95m in 2009 and €150m in a full year.
All inland flights between Irish airports will be eligible for the €2 charge as well as trips to nearby UK destinations such as Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow and Cardiff.
The tax will not apply to crew members or aircraft with less than 20 seats.
The Budget measure has been attacked as anti-consumer by carriers such as Aer Lingus and Ryanair.
The tax will also not apply to children aged under two years or people with disabilities and their carers.