State Aid: Norway's air passenger tax does not constitute unlawful state aid
EN | NO
The exemption from Norway's air passenger tax does not amount to state aid within the meaning of the EEA Agreement. Therefore, the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) today closed a complaint case against Norway.
“ESA is not in a position to evaluate the merits of the air passenger tax policy and can only conclude whether or not it constitutes unlawful state aid. And it does not”, says ESA President Sven Erik Svedman.
The passenger tax was adopted in Norway in December 2015 and levied on all commercial flights departing from Norwegian airports from June 2016. An exemption was made for transit and transfer passengers.
ESA received a complaint against Norway in June 2016 from the Federation of Norwegian Aviation Industries (NHO Luftfart), arguing that the exemption constitutes unlawful state aid.
The complainant held that the exemption favours airlines which operate various networks and serve multiple destinations, which often have in place cooperation agreements with other airlines, to the detriment of airlines relying on passengers' ability to self-connect. Prior to receiving the complaint, ESA had in May 2016 informed Norwegian authorities that it did not consider the exemption in the new tax to involve state aid. After assessing the complaint, ESA upholds its first conclusion.
ESA acknowledges that the exemption might affect airlines differently according to their business model. However, the exemption is the result of an inherent mechanism necessary for the operability and effectiveness of the air passenger tax system. According to EEA rules, this does not constitute unlawful state aid.
Read the decision here.
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