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Norway wants to scrap controversial air passenger tax

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Norway wants to scrap controversial air passenger tax
Oslo Rygge Airport on October 29th 2016. Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen/NTB scanpix
15:25 CET+01:00
At its national conference, Norway’s governing Høyre party announced that it plans to scrap a mandatory airline tax connected to last year's closure of Oslo Rygge Airport.

The party wants to replace the flat fee with a new type of tax that would have a “clear environmental effect,” reports newspaper Dagbladet.

The proposal, which came from the Østfold division of the party, was made at the end of a debate on transport.

Overall support was given to the proposal to “scrap the passenger tax and replace it with a tax that has a more clear environmental effect,” reports the paper.

The fee in its current form was a part of the budget agreed by the government and its supporting parliamentary parties in November 2015 and was implemented on June 1st 2016.

The tax of 80 kroner plus VAT ($9.30) per passenger is applied to all flights leaving Norwegian airports and is estimated to have contributed 1.6 million kroner ($186,000) to state coffers in the current financial year, according to news agency NTB.

But the support for the proposal is not likely to mean any short-term reductions on travel costs.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg later told Dagbladet that her party had never been a “big fan” of the tax, but that it would remain in place for the time being.

“The proposal accepted by the party is to swap one charge for another, which will be more based on environmental considerations… so now Høyre must take this further and start negotiations with other parties on a governmental platform for the next parliamentary period,” the party’s financial policy spokesperson Svein Flåtten told Dagbladet.

Flåtten said that any alternative tax would have been “unlikely” to prevent the closure of Rygge Airport, which was closed last year after Ryanair shut down its traffic to the airport, blaming the charges.

“I don’t think it would have changed anything. It would have had the same effect for the airlines,” he said.

Pål Tandberg, former manager with Rygge Sivile Lufthavn (RSL), the company that operated the now-closed Rygge Airport, told Dagbladet that his initial reaction to the news was that is sounded “completely unbelievable”, but declined to comment further before taking the development in fully.

RSL closed down operations on November 1st 2016 following Ryanair’s decision to cease using the airport after the introduction of the tax.

Around 1,000 people are estimated to have lost their jobs as a result of the closure, reports Dagbladet.

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