Legality Of "Tourist Prices" For Domestic Flights Questioned

Legality Of “Tourist Prices” For Domestic Flights Questioned

Published July 11, 2014

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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Grapevine Archives

It is unclear whether or not it is illegal to charge Icelanders and foreigners two different prices for the same domestic flights.

As reported, Eagle Air (or Flugfélagið Ernir) has two websites: one in English and the other in Icelandic. How much a person is charged for a domestic flight depends on which site they use: those booking their flights through the English language website could pay substantially more for the same flight booked through the Icelandic version.

Gunnar Þór Pétursson, an associate professor at the University of Reykjavík’s law department, told RÚV that he believes that basing prices on this criteria is in violation of the “the four freedoms” of the European Economic Area Agreement; freedom of movement of goods, persons, services and capital.

Eagle Air director Hörður Guðmundsson told Vísir that he does not believe the price difference is a form of discrimination.

“A portion of the domestic flights that we take are subsidised by the Icelandic government, to give Icelanders a chance to fly between places in a less expensive and more economic fashion,” he said. “We see no reason for Icelandic tax money to be used to subsidise the fees for foreign parties that pay in euros.”

Gunnar does not believe this line of reasoning holds up to examination.

“We use tax money to pay for many things, such as building roads that everyone can use,” he said. “Take, for example, the Øresund Bridge between Denmark and Sweden. We would not be happy to pay more than Danes and Swedes do to go over that bridge, even though it was built through the tax money of these countries.”

Another lawyer RÚV spoke to said the matter might not be so cut-and-dry. However, the legality of the price difference might ultimately have to be settled in a court of law.

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