Monday, November 9, 2009

Poland to block non-EU charter airlines?

Revolutionary changes in charter flights from Poland ahead. If the Polish parliament approves the changes in aviation law, the airlines registered in Poland and performing charter flights will be treated favorably. The state's goal is to get their taxes in exchange for rights to 50 percent of charter flights market.

Some countries from beyond the EU don't allow foreign carriers to perform charter operations to their leisure destinations. Such is the case with Morocco, Tunisia or Egypt. On the other hand tour operators offering holidays to Poles also choose foreign charter airlines, just because they are cheaper than Polish ones. The new regulations will guarantee 50 percent of charter flights departing from Poland to non-EU destinations to airlines registered in Poland. This market is valued at 2.5 billion zl annually with about 300 million possible annual tax revenue for the state. But currently the Polish state is getting only 25 percent of this amount, just because the market is dominated by non-EU airlines.

The changes in law were pushed by LOT Polish Airlines and Air Italy. By registering for example African carriers in Poland the competitive advantage of the latter will disappear, because they will have to bear the same fees and taxes as Polish carriers.

The critics of the changes in law point out that it is in fact a step back from liberalization of the Polish airspace, which took place in 2004 before Poland joined the EU. Tour operators underscore that limiting access to Polish airports for non-EU airlines may cause vacation packages to be more expensive.

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