EU gives negative signals over flight tax

It is looking doubtful that Sweden’s proposed flight tax will ever happen, after the European Union commission that is studying the legality of the fee has asked several critical questions of the country’s government.

The flight tax, the product of an agreement between the Social Democratic government and the Green and Left Parties, would tax each passenger 94 kronor for flights within Europe, and 188 kronor for those traveling elsewhere. Passengers from certain airports in remote regions such as Pajala, Kiruna, and Gällivare are among those exempt from the tax that the government wants to start this fall.

The law was referred to the European Commission in Brussels to see whether it breaks competition rules.

In a response to Sweden, the EU organ said, “The commission fears that the proposed exemptions can damage the competition in the Swedish flight industry.”

“It is awkward for the government to get these types of questions where you have asked for clarification a large number of inconsistencies,” said Christian Democrat member of parliament Mats Odell to SVT.

“It will probably have the effect that this is the last we see of this flight tax.”

The commission also asked why two airports within 100 kilometer of each other would be taxed differently such as Hagfors and Karlstad.

Irish low-cost airline Ryanair has stepped up its war of words over the planned Swedish flight tax and has repeatedly threatened to withdraw the airline from Västerås and to scrap lines from Gothenburg and Malmö.

Sweden is expected to give a response to the questions within two months.