Ryanair fails to win costs against State over travel tax

Ryanair is not, at this stage, entitled to certain legal costs relating to its bid to get judgment against the State for millions it says it overpaid in air travel tax, the High Court has ruled.

Ryanair claimed it was entitled to judgment against the Revenue Commissioners and the Minister for Finance over delays in complying with court orders that they provide information that the airline said it required to progress its case.

The application became moot last month when the State provided the required information.

However, Mr Justice Max Barrett said he would not grant Ryanair the costs of making the application and said that should be dealt with at the outcome of its main action.

He said he would have rejected the airline’s application to strike out the State parties’ defence and enter judgment against them.

He would also have rejected Ryanair’s application that the State defendants not be allowed to recover their legal costs of defending the case, this far, regardless of its eventual outcome.

First introduced in March 2009, the tax, which the airlines themselves had to collect by adding it to passenger ticket prices, had two rates — €2 for flights with destinations of 300km or less from Dublin Airport; and €10 for those further than that.

It had be revised following a complaint to the EU Commission that the higher rate breached EU regulations and in 2011 was replaced with a single €3 rate regardless of distance.

Ryanair and Aer Lingus separately sued the State seeking the return of the money they had paid up to March 2011 above the new rate.

Both airlines sought sums in excess of €60m.

Mr Justice Barrett said there was no wilful default on the part of the State.


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