Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Netherlands Court Upholds Ticket Tax

Readers of the Aviation Law Blog may recall Frans Vreede’s guest post from February 5 on the Dutch Ticket Tax. In that post, Mr. Vreede set down an argument against the Netherlands’ imposition of a $67 per ticket tax on all departures bound for outside the territory of the European Union ($17 for those within). As Mr. Vreede’s post made clear, the tax may be in violation of Article 15 of the Chicago Convention and may also run afoul of the U.S./EU Air Transport Agreement. Despite this, a Dutch court in the Hague has rejected claims of the tax’s illegality.

Led by the Amsterdam airport Schiphol Group, the challenge to the new ticket tax fell to a narrow reading by the court. On a first sight reading of the case, the judge took Article 15’s omission of the word "tax" from the list of impermissible charges to be indicative of its inapplicability. The court failed to consider the purpose behind the article itself, i.e., as a prohibition to setting charges which have no relationship to the use of airports or their facilities. While the court’s decision marks an obvious setback for civil aviation in the Netherlands, an appeal to the country’s Supreme Court to review the decision’s merits is likely.


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