2 November 2010
Austria is set to introduce a departure tax in the near future with a date yet to be announced. It will mean that passengers departing from an airport in Austria will have to pay a tax of £7 (€8) for short-haul and £35 (€40) for long-haul flights.

Similar to the new departure tax introduced in Germany, it is expected that Austria’s new tax will not be payable by transit passengers. This coincides with the business model of home carrier Austrian Airlines, which is geared around flying passengers between destinations in Western Europe on the one hand and Central, Eastern Europe and Russia on the other via its Vienna hub.

Association of European Airlines (AEA) Secretary General, Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus, has stated that Austria should learn the lesson of the Netherlands, which abandoned its own passenger tax in 2009 after just 12 months, when it was discovered it had cost the economy £873 million (€1 billion) in return for just £262 million (€300 million) in revenues. In the Dutch case, many travellers chose to board their flights in nearby countries with Dusseldorf and Brussels being popular. Amsterdam airport has said that 1.3 million passengers were lost.

This is more difficult in the case of Austria. Travellers based near the Swiss border might opt for Zurich and those near Vienna might consider nearby Bratislava in Slovakia but there is a limited range of short-haul flights from Bratislava. Most are with Ryanair rather than big national carriers like Air France, British Airways or Lufthansa. It means that interlining facilities at another European hub are not possible. Bratislava has no long-distance flights at all.