By the close of this year, an estimated 19.5 million passengers would have used Palma airport, with the vast majority flying in and out of the island on board charter flights, but yesterday the Association of Spanish Airlines (AECA) warned that the charter airline sector could be facing a major shake-up with the introduction of a single European Union airport tax. President of the Association, Felipe Navio, fears that a “merging” of taxes into a single levy, will have a serious affect on the Spanish airline industry as airports will be forced to put taxes up in order to fall in line with European Union colleagues. At the moment airport taxes across the EU range from between 200 pesetas in the case of most Spanish domestic flights, to 800 pesetas. But the European Union's idea is to fix airport taxes somewhere between 400 and 600 pesetas. If the EU opts for 500 pesetas, for domestic flights in Spain, airport taxes will more than double and as a result the airlines will have to raise ticket prices in order to cover the airport tax hikes. Navio made it clear yesterday that it will be the passengers and the tour operators who will be forced to dig into their pockets and make up the difference. This week Navio will be meeting his opposite number at the Spanish airport and air traffic control body AENA in order to start discussing the proposed tax increases and the options available for Spanish charter airlines. Navio has not ruled out the possibility of the association taking legal action, if applicable, against the EU to block the move for a shake-up in airport taxes will also pose serious financial problems for airports.

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