As political momentum builds across Europe to clamp down on aviation’s environmental impact, the Dutch government has said it wants to introduce a tax on air travel and cargo transport, effective January 1, 2021, unless the European Union sets up a pan-EU tax first.

The draft National Aviation Tax, which has yet to be debated by politicians, specifies a levy of EUR7 (USD7.80) per departing passenger.

Air cargo transport would be taxed at a rate of EUR3.85 (USD4.30) per tonne of cargo for "the noisiest planes", the Ministry of Finance said in a statement, and EUR1.925 (USD2.145) per tonne of cargo for "the quietest".

The ministry anticipates returns of EUR200 million (USD222 million). The bill was submitted to the House of Representatives, the lower house in the country's bicameral parliament, on May 14. It will be debated there and afterwards at the Senate.

The environment is a major area of policy for the Netherlands' current four-party government, whose coalition agreement states that it "wants to make the aviation sector greener and more sustainable. International air traffic is currently not subject to excise duty or VAT."

The proposed tax on passenger flights would exclude infants and transit passengers. Consequently, it has come under fire by low-cost carriers. Ryanair (FR, Dublin Int'l) condemned the bill, which "will reward environmentally damaging, connecting flights – because it exempts transfer passengers at Amsterdam Schiphol’s hub airport (which is clearly designed as a further state aid to KLM) – while imposing the tax on more environmentally efficient direct flights," it said.

The Ministry of Finance commented in its statement that the draft law "includes measures to prevent a potential negative impact on Schipol’s role as a hub and on its international network of connections. [...] The bill is part of efforts by the Dutch government to charge consumers and businesses for environmentally polluting behaviour."