Airport, Financial Services, Latvia, Legislation, Transport

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Tuesday, 21.05.2019, 12:42

Riga Airport could reintroduce airport tax breaks

Alla Petrova, BC, Riga, 10.05.2010.Print version
Riga International Airport might again introduce tax breaks that it previously had to lift, newspaper Dienas Bizness reports today. Riga Airport Chairman of the Board Krisjanis Peters did not rule out such a possibility. Competition Council's head Ieva Jaunzeme also said that moderate and economically justified tax breaks could be reintroduced at the airport, and that talks about the matter were under way already. Asked what tax breaks could be commensurate, Jaunzeme said around 30% would be about right.

The Competition Council will not oppose tax breaks if they are commensurate and economically justified, said Jaunzeme. The past dispute with the airport was due to the fact that no information had been provided proving that the tax breaks created any favorable economic effect. Furthermore, if tax breaks reach 80 % and more – as they were before the airport had to lift them – this is unfair to other airlines, writes LETA.


The newspaper reminds that the Competition Council ascertained, after receiving a complaint from six airlines – Austrian Airlines, Czech Airlines, Finnair, British Airways, Deutsche Lufthansa AG and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines – that the airport's tax breaks for the national airline airBaltic and the Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair had resulted in unfair competition. The State Audit Office, in turn, concluded that, as a result of the tax breaks, the state budget failed to collect more than LVL 11 million in 2007.


Since the tax breaks for airlines were lifted, airport tax has been the same for all the airlines flying to/from the Riga Airport, regardless of their passenger turnover figures.


"Dienas Bizness" writes that it cannot be ruled out that the reintroduction of the tax breaks could be due to Ryanair’s uncertain future plans in Latvia. Peters declined to comment, whereas Jaunzeme said that there was no direct connection between the development of an airline base in Riga and the airline's passenger turnover, on which the amount of the tax breaks depends.


At the beginning of May, Ryanair opened its first base in Central and Eastern Europe in Lithuania's city of Kaunas. Ex-Transport Minister Ainars Slesers (Latvia's First Party/Latvia's Way), who was the transport minister at the time the tax breaks were adopted at the Riga Airport, has said that Kaunas Airport currently does not charge anything for the flights to/from the airport.


Peters told "Dienas Bizness" though that the talks with Ryanair on the development of the airline's base in Riga continue yet. "Our letters are strictly confidential, but I can safely say that we were exchanging letters about the conditions back in April yet," said Peters. "It has been wrongly assumed that Ryanair will have two planes at its base in Kaunas, and that Ryanair leaves Riga. It is not so, Ryanair still has more flights from Riga than Kaunas will ever have, I believe. If we could accept the conditions they offer, then we would have the base, meaning that planes stay here at night, tomorrow already," said Peters, adding that eventually such a base would be developed in Riga.


Back in February, when Ryanair announced the development of the base in Lithuania, Ryanair representatives told the newspaper that the talks still continued and the airline was not planning to Riga, because a large number of flights was operated to/from Riga, and passenger flows were increasing each year. At the same time, Ryanair did not deny that the cancelled tax breaks was what the airline had been unable to agree on with the Riga Airport, and that Ryanair would only expand its operations in Riga if the cost level in Riga would be in line with the airline's interests.


If tax breaks are reintroduced, the airport would have to cover them from its earnings, and this is closely connected to the construction of a new airport terminal, said Jaunzeme.


Taking into consideration the current passenger numbers at the Riga Airport's terminal, the construction of a new terminal by "airBaltic" would enable the airport to attract new airlines and more passengers. This means that, besides "airBaltic and Ryanair, which account for the bulk of the airport's passenger turnover, the planned tax breaks could be offered to newcomers to the airport, said Jaunzeme.


In the meantime, Vilnius Airport currently offers airlines practically the same tax breaks as the Riga Airport used to have a few years ago. "The example of Vilnius is symptomatic – we lifted our tax breaks, and they introduced theirs in just two weeks after that. Here it is legally impossible without support from the state," said Peters.

Search site