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Ryanair, Aer Lingus win court challenge against EU over travel tax


Ryanair's Michael O'Leary

Ryanair's Michael O'Leary

Ryanair's Michael O'Leary

Ryanair and rival Aer Lingus have won a court challenge against a European Union regulatory ruling ordering them to repay state aid related to Ireland's air travel tax.

The two carriers took their fight to the EU's General Court in Luxembourg after the European Commission in 2012 said they had benefited from illegal state aid by paying a lower levy for domestic flights between 2009 and 2011.

The EU competition authority told Irish authorities to recover eight euros per passenger on short-haul flights from the airlines. Judges said the Commission's arguments were flawed.

"The General Court annuls the Commission decision in so far as it orders the recovery of the aid from the beneficiaries for an amount set at eight euros per passenger," the court said.

"The Commission could not consider that the advantage enjoyed by the airlines automatically amounted, in all cases, to eight euros per passenger."

Ireland subsequently modified its air travel tax to a flat rate for all flights, domestic and international, in 2011 following the Commission's investigation.

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