France Wins EU Approval For Airline Virus Aid

The European Commission will allow France to defer some aeronautical taxes up to two years in order to help embattled airlines, after Brussels decided on Tuesday, 31 March, that the plan is in line with its new looser State aid rules.

It paves the way for France to push back taxes that are due between March and December 2020 to January 2021. Airlines have been hard hit by the ongoing pandemic and will have 24 extra months to pay back some of what is owed to the State.

“The French scheme will partly compensate airlines for damages suffered due to coronavirus. This is the first state aid measure notified to us by a member state aiming to mitigate damages to the airline sector,” said EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager.

The Commission’s assessment “found that the measure is proportionate as the foreseen compensation does not exceed what is necessary to make good the damage,” given that the virus is now firmly established as a legal “exceptional circumstance.”

But the EU executive did not go into detail about which taxes will be deferrable or what the value of the delayed levies will be. France charges airlines a number of taxes, including a new environmental charge on all flights departing its airports.

Air France CEO Benjamin Smith urged governments in early March to waive any new levies in the pipeline to help out the aviation industry, citing France’s green tax and Dutch plans to deploy one next year.

Full Content: EurActive

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