Published 10 September 2021
Although legal discussions relating to airport charges have been long overshadowed by the focuses on their symbiotic partner-airlines, they have raised many concerns with increasing importance. Among others, a question stands out: if an airport tax is imposed on airlines for the pure entry into or departure from the airspace of a country without the provision of airport services, will this tax be recognised as 'fees, dues or other charges,' which are prohibited under the last sentence of Article 15 of the Chicago Convention? To answer this question, the first part of this article serves as an introduction. The second part adopts a doctrinal method to understand the conceptual relationship between a tax and a charge, and further explores the original purpose of Article 15. After that, the discussions of several relevant disputes help to answer the question from a practical perspective. In the fourth part, I explore the substantive reasons behind legal discussions, why a tax has always been taken seriously. The last part suggests that solutions should aim to reconcile the tension between the need for revenue from taxation and the user-friendly application of Article 15 if it is not feasible to achieve such strict application in practice. This study stands for a voice for this underdeveloped but important topic. It also aims to shed light on Article 15 to resolve future disputes regarding the legitimacy of a tax imposed on airlines and passengers via airports.
This paper will be part of the TDM Special Issue on "Old and New Disputes in Aerospace Law". More information here www.transnational-dispute-management.com/news.asp?key=1858