Ryanair anger at new Belgian air tax plans

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Ryanair is threatening to cut 17% of its capacity at Brussels South Charleroi airport unless plans to introduce a new €3 ($4) travel tax at airports in the Belgian region of Wallonia next year are scrapped.

The Irish low-cost carrier says it will shift several flights to airports with "lower costs", leading to the loss of over 1 million passengers and 1,000 jobs at Charleroi airport, unless plans for the tax, which would apply to Charleroi and Liege airports, are dropped.

The tax could be introduced as soon as January 2014 if approved by the Belgian government.

Ryanair is seeking an "urgent" meeting with the Wallonian Government and says passengers will choose to fly from Brussels airport if the tax is introduced.

The airport operator warns the tax will have "catastrophic consequences" leading to the loss of 25% of traffic at the gateway.

The Belgian government scrapped plans for a similar tax in 2008, while the Netherlands dropped its own Air Passenger Tax 2009 in the face of opposition from the industry.

Innovata schedules data shows Ryanair is by far Brussels South Charleroi's biggest customer, accounting for more than 80% of seats, capacity and frequencies and almost 80% of available seat kilometres. Other key operators at Charleroi are Wizz and Jetairfly.

RYANAIR ROUTE NETWORK AT CHARLEROI: AUGUST 2013

Source: Flightmap Analytics