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Home | 2016 | June

The green tick

Posted by Thersites on UTC 2016-06-01 09:31.

Earlier this year the Norwegian coalition government introduced a measure to charge airlines in Norway a 'seat tax' of 88 NOK (10.50 USD, 10.50 CHF, 7.20 GBP, 9.50 EUR) for every passenger they carried. This would reduce the number of passengers using this hated form of transport and thus help save the planet.

The objectors to this scheme made much of the fact that an extra 88 NOK on a ticket is not going to discourage anyone to fly because the Norwegians are happy aviators: in a mountainous, stretched-out country, hopping from point to point by air makes a lot of sense, even for relatively short distances. However, the objectors to the seat tax, taking the proposal at face value, misunderstood its purpose: discouraging people was not the real aim.

The scheme was never intended to reduce passenger numbers; it was only meant to suck off some blood without the host noticing too much. In this respect it was like so many other lunatic green schemes in that, had it succeeded, it would have caused an economic and environmental disaster. No one ever expects these daydreams to succeed.

If passenger numbers were appreciably reduced then each flight would carry fewer passengers and thus become less efficient. Carrying 100 instead of 120 passengers would have an effect on fuel consumption so trivial that it can be neglected. However, the cost of air transport would have to be borne by fewer passengers: prices would go up, there would be even fewer passengers and so on. Uneconomic routes would be cancelled. Travellers would resort to other means of making their journeys.

But the green-minded know all this already, which is why the targets of such shakedowns are usually 'inelastic' commodities – commodities on which price has little effect. For example, even quite large increases in fuel duty and vehicle taxation have little effect on the owners of motor vehicles. Once you have bought a car you use it, because it makes no economic sense to leave it in the garage. Greens know this.

So the Norwegian green parasite that is firmly clamped by its suckers onto the Norwegian economy thought the host would barely notice the extra 88 NOK. The measure was nodded through by coalition partners –  who really should have known better  – and was scheduled to be introduced, appropriately enough, on 1 April this year.

It quickly became clear that the host would notice. Ryanair pointed out that on a ticket costing, say, 400 NOK (48 USD, 48 CHF, 33 GBP, 43 EUR) each way (thank you, capitalism!), NOK 88, an increase of about 20%, would certainly be noticed. And for Ryanair, losing passengers would mean that routes and airports would become uneconomic. Ryanair said they might have to stop using Rygge airport, near Oslo, leading to the loss of hundreds of jobs and possibly pull out of Norway completely, in which case the total job losses would be a thousand or so.

Add to this the complete administrative chaos of the introduction of the system and you can imagine the shock the parasites and their lazy coalition partners received. The introduction was postponed from the first of April to the first of June. We shall see what happens.

Some have suggested that Ryanair wants to pull out of the airport at Rygge in order to be able to bypass the very expensive social security costs of employing people in Norway. Choose your parasite: greenery or socialism – they rarely come alone.