Ryanair threatens to pull out of Norway

Ryanair threatens to pull out of Norway
Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary attends a 2009 press conference to announce that Rygge will serve as a new hub for the airline (Photo: Bjørn Sigurdsøn/Scanpix)
Low-cost airline Ryanair has threatened to ditch its operations in Norway amid a tax row over pilots’ fees.

The Norwegian tax authorities have expressed an interest in learning more about some 30 Ryanair pilots who are resident in Norway, business newspaper Finansavisen reports.

“We’re an Irish company and we pay tax in Ireland. We’ll never accept having to pay tax to another high-cost country,” Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary told reporters at Rygge Airport, 60 kilometres outside Oslo.

The tax office in eastern Norway, Skatt Øst, plans to investigate if Norwegian law permits an arrangement whereby pilots set up their own companies as sole traders before renting their services to the airline.

Tax officials contend that the pilots should instead be considered employees of the company, which would affect where they pay taxes and the size of their tax bill.

With contracts in places like the Isle of Man and Gibraltar, the pilots can end up paying next to no taxes, even if they live and work outside of these tax havens.

“We don’t get involved in that,” said O’Leary, who added that Ryanair could end up cutting the pilots’ pay or pulling out of the Norwegian market completely unless the matter is resolved to its satisfaction.

“If you work for an Irish-registered company, then you are in Ireland and should pay social charges to Ireland,” said O’Leary.

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