The Government's decision to abolish the €3 travel tax could create more than 1,000 jobs at Irish airports, Ryanair claimed today.
Announcing plans to grow its traffic at its Irish airports by at least 1m passengers per year from April 2014, the airline cited research by the Airport Council International (ACI), which it says demonstrates that 1,000 new jobs are created at international airports for every one million additional passengers delivered.
Ryanair said that since the tax was introduced in January 2009, traffic at the main Irish airports had declined from 30.5m passengers in 2008 to 23.5m in 2012.
The company has now invited all the main Irish airports – Dublin, Cork, Shannon, Knock and Kerry – to meetings in Dublin on Thursday and Friday of this week to finalise these growth plans and how it can be split between the airports.
"Ryanair warmly welcomes the Government’s decision to repeal the €3 travel tax," Ryanair’s Michael Cawley.
"This travel tax (originally €10) in 2009 caused Irish air travel and tourism to suffer precipitous losses in recent years. The repeal of the air travel tax helps restore Ireland’s competitiveness and attractiveness to overseas visitors from the UK and Continental Europe in particular.
"In response to yesterday’s Budget, Ryanair will engage over the next two days with all of our Irish airport partners to see how and where we can add new routes or additional frequencies on existing routes, and deliver at least 1m new passengers p.a. at these Irish airports from April 2014, which will create over 1,000 new jobs as a direct result of the Government’s decision to scrap the visitor tax.
"Subject to final negotiation on new routes and additional frequencies on existing routes with the individual airports, we hope to be in a position to announce details of new route and traffic growth plans at the Irish airports over the coming weeks."
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said that more detail of the Ryanair proposal is needed.
"I look forward to hearing the details of that and look forward to analysing closely as to whether they are actually inbound tourists coming to visit Ireland and therefor helping to create employment here," he said.
"I’ll also be eagerly awaiting the response from the other airlines as to how they will respond to this decision.
"It is of course open to the minister for Finance to re-introduce the travel tax at €3, €5 or even €10 in October, should the response not be satisfactory."
The Irish Travel Agents Association also welcomed the announcement that the travel tax will be abolished.
Pat Dawson, ITAA CEO said: "The ITAA welcomes this change which will encourage inbound and outbound traffic to Ireland.
"We call on the airlines to follow through on their promise that they will produce at least one million extra passengers. To further help this growth, we urge the airlines to play their part and reduce some of their charges such as the Ash Crisis Protection and administration fees.
"Anything that brings income to the country is good for our members as that money circulates in the economy and everyone benefits particularly employment."