The price of a flight. A study on the costs of and for aviation in the Netherlands

At the request of the Dutch ministry of Infrastructuur and Water Management, CE Delft carried out a study on the costs of and for aviation in the Netherlands, addressing the following specific issues:

  • the (projected) development of aviation taxes and charges in the Netherlands over the period 2015-2024
  • comparison of the external costs, infrastructure costs, taxes and charges for aviation, rail, car and bus for six illustrative trips
  • comparison of the external costs, infrastructure costs, taxes and charges and the degree of internalization of the external and infrastructure costs for aviation (and rail) in the Netherlands with those in several other West-European countries.

The main results of the study are as follows:

  • Dutch aviation taxes and charges are projected to increase by around 40% in the coming years, the result of increased airport dues and introduction of a tax on passenger flights (in 2021). This rise in taxes and charges follows a decline between 2015 and 2017.
  • The EU ETS and (in the future) CORSIA contribute little to the sum total of taxes and charges paid by airlines, owing mainly to the low price paid for emission credits.
  • For the six trips examined (Amersfoort to London, Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Los Angeles and Toronto) we conclude that the ratio between taxes/charges and external/infrastructure costs is between 40% and 110% for intra-European flights and around 20% for intercontinental flights.
  • Comparing air travel with alternative modes for these illustrative trips, it is found that the ratios for car travel are higher (always over 100%). With rail travel, the ratio depends very much on whether or not fixed infrastructure costs are included. If they are, the ratio is about 20%; if they are not, the cost of rail is more than internalized on all these trips. The relatively low taxes/charges for bus travel, finally, mean low ratios for this mode of transport.
  • For aviation, in 2016 the ratio between external/infrastructure costs and taxes/charges was lower for Schiphol than for Frankfurt and particularly for London Heathrow. The fact that in 2016 both Germany and the UK taxed passenger flights, while the Netherlands did not, is a major reason for this result. For Heathrow, another factor is that airport dues there are substantially higher than at Schiphol. 


Arno Schroten

The price of a flight (only available in Dutch)

Authors CE

Arno Schroten
Lisanne van Wijngaarden

Delft, November 2019