Flight tax ‘could be illegal’

Sweden's proposed tax on flights could break EU law, it has been revealed.

The Swedish Council on Laws (Lagrådet) has has said that the proposal to exempt domestic flights to isolated areas from the new tax appears to collide with the EU’s rules on state subsidies.

“Lagrådet’s opinion is that it is currently uncertain whether the [European] Commission will approve these state subsidies,” the council wrote in its opinion.

The new tax will be imposed from 1st August if it passes all the legal hurdles. The council said that implementation of the tax should be postponed until the Commission has made its position clear.

Lagrådet was also very critical of the fact that the government’s proposal contained no analysis of the consequences of the new tax, particularly the environmental consequences.

Further obstacles to the proposal have come from the Left Party. Leader Lars Ohly objects to the fact that passengers who travel on two connecting flights will have to pay the new tax twice.

“This means that passenger flying from Norbotten to Gothenburg, and who makes a stop-off in Arlanda will have to pay 94 kronor plus 94 kronor, despite the fact that it’s the same trip.”

“I’m not surprised by Lagrådet’s criticisms. When we come across problems on the way, we have to adapt,” Ohly said, repeating his insistence that a journey should not cost more than 100 kronor extra.

The opposition, which opposes the tax, seized on the report from Lagrådet.

“Given the criticisms that have been made previously, and now this from Lagrådet, the only sensible thing to do is to scrap the proposal,” said the Centre Party’s economic policy spokesman Roger Tiefensee.

The tax has already had effects on the airline industry in Sweden, even though it has not yet become law. Ryanair and a number of other airlines have threatened to scrap routes from Sweden, with Malmö’s Sturup airport particularly badly affected. Airlines there are threatening to move operations across Öresund to Copenhagen’s Kastrup Airport, where flight tax has been abolished.