vendredi, septembre 08, 2006

Taxing Costs

A few days ago I had a short exchange with Arcibald about taxes and cheap flights that later developed into a metaphorical discussion on flavoured condoms. I will not bore you with the details of that spurious link but let me just say that on the whole Arcibald and I both agree that Maltese need to travel more and need to do something more to get easier access to travel. Ah... and we also agree that the government is not helping.

On j'accuse I have been advocating for the introduction of low-cost airlines into the market in order that the Maltese get a greater awareness of (a) the benefits of flying and (b) the barriers that still exist thanks to the brand managing government and quasi-para-statal companies. Ryanair's latest offer of 4 million FREE seats will fit the bill perfectly.

I checked out the offer as soon as I read about it. It is a great marketing ploy... basically Ryanair fills the seats on those flights which are less used (off season) by offering them at a ridiculously low price (in this case €0.01). The only snag is that taxes and charges have to be paid anyway. So here is the result of a booking for a Malta-Pisa flight in March (6th to 13th, low-season):

Going out (leaving Malta):
Cost of ticket: €0.01
Charges & Taxes: €70.14
Coming back (leaving Pisa):
Cost of ticket: €0.01
Charges & taxes: €18.64

And there you have it. Black on white. The cost of the flight ticket is €0.02. 2 euro cents. An amount that can scarcely be quantified in Maltese tender (close to 8 mills). On the other hand the ticket price is boosted by the various charges for use of the airports and leaving Malta and Italy. Rounding the Italian fees upwards to €20, one would notice that the Maltese total of taxes and charges is three and a half times that of the Italian airport.

So. We started the first step. Travelling has definitely got cheaper. But this is not enough. To have equal opportunities of travel as do others on the continent we still lack two major steps: (a) a rationalising of the taxes and charges; (b) opening up as many routes as possible.

In the meantime... do pop over to Pisa, Dublin or Luton. It's worth it.... literally.

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