Belfast Telegraph

Air travel taxes threat lifted

The European Commission has lifted the threat of legal action against Ireland over "discriminatory" taxes on air travel.

The move follows agreement by the Government to levy a single air travel tax on all flights from Irish airports, regardless of destination.

Under EU law a member state cannot charge different air tax rates inside and beyond its borders.

But in March 2009 Irish authorities imposed a 10 euro charge on passengers travelling further than 300km from Dublin airport. Shorter flights were taxed at 2 euro per passenger.

A Commission statement on Thursday said: "Such a distinction had the effect of imposing a higher tax on cross-border flights. Almost all cross-border flights were charged at the higher rate whereas all domestic flights were covered by the lower rate.

"As such the Commission expressed its concerns that the tax constituted a barrier to the freedom to provide services across borders."

The statement emphasised: "This important principle (of a single air tax rate) underpins the internal market in aviation which has been such a success, delivering major benefits for Europeans and European business since 1997."

The Commission warned Ireland in March last year about its air rates, prompting a reply last December that Ireland would adjust the rate.

Since this March a single rate of 3 euro has been charged on all passengers.

The Commission said: "The Commission considers that the tax now complies with EU law. It has therefore decided to close the case."

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