Ireland's Government has agreed to abolish its controversial aviation tax in return for increased tourist traffic, prompting Dublin Airport Authority to expand its incentive scheme to attract airline growth at Dublin, Cork and Shannon.

The Government in December announced that the travel tax introduced in March 2009 would be slashed from €10 ($14.4) to €3 from 1 March, 2011. However, Irish minister for transport, tourism and sport Leo Varadkar said yesterday that the remaining €3 would be abolished "if airlines commit to deliver more tourists to Ireland".

DAA has subsequently introduced a new three-year incentive scheme which will rebate passenger service charges to airlines for any traffic growth at Dublin, Cork and Shannon between now and the end of 2013.

The original one-year scheme unveiled in December agreed to waive all airport charges relating to any additional passenger traffic above a 23.5 million threshold across all three airports in 2011. This threshold covered "normalised traffic for 2010, factoring in the ash cloud", said DAA.

The new threshold will be different for each airport with rebates paid out for all traffic exceeding 18.4 million a year at Dublin, 2.4 million at Cork and 1.8 million at Shannon. DAA estimates that it will provide €75 million worth of incentives over the next three years, taking into account the new scheme combined with existing programmes.

"The Government's stated position in relation to the aviation tax, coupled with DAA's decision to rebate all passenger service charges for extra traffic delivered to our airports over the next three years creates a formidable incentive to airlines to grow their business at Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports," said DAA director of strategy Vincent Harrison.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news