Turbulence before takeoff: a research into aviation taxation policy developments in the Netherlands
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This research looks into the policy developments of aviation taxation, specifically framing the Netherlands as the country of interest. As it becomes ever more clear that the aviation industry has a negative impact on the climate through greenhouse gas emissions, society is in need of sustainable solutions for this sector. Seeing how aviation has come to be a vital element in the global scheme of trade and leisure, this solution is not easily identified and adopted. New measures are being developed or are already in place on the international level, but individual countries do sometimes feel the obligation to take action themselves. In the Netherlands, travellers have been subject to a flight ticket tax, which was implemented by the Dutch government in the summer of 2008. Exactly one year later, this tax was repealed. Several years after this happened, a new Dutch government – formed in the end of 2017 – has announced possible implementation of a similar tax. Taking the events in 2008 and 2009 as the focal point, this research deploys a discourse network analysis to give further insights into the policy developments that have taken place. Data is gathered from three prominent Dutch newspapers over different time periods, ranging from 1990 to 2018. The data is coded into statements in Discourse Network Analyzer, which builds up a database with information relating to opinions of organisations. Subsequently the discourse is charted by the creation of congruence and affiliation networks in the software Gephi. To analyze these configurations, theoretical concepts of the Advocacy Coalition Framework and Punctuated Equilibrium Theory are used. It is found that the tax implementation in 2008 is partly a result of a gradual build-up of favourable attitudes toward an aviation tax, which was bolstered by the composition of the incumbent government cabinet at that time. The tax repeal from 2009 can be attributed to the relatively strong network of organisations that was against the tax. This network ‘coalition’ effectively used negative images of the tax to emphasize its disadvantages. As for the possible new tax that was announced in 2017, it is concluded that the discourse is (yet) too underdeveloped to adequately explain.