Airline trade organisation Airlines for America (A4A), which includes companies like Delta, United and Continental, filed a complaint on Friday.
In a statement, the group called the tax “a short-sighted cash-grab that will do more harm to the German economy than any short-term benefit that the tax revenue may bring the country's coffers.”
The challenge was filed at Hesse's state fiscal court in Kassel, taking issue with the German Air Transport Tax which took effect last January and put airlines serving the US into the highest of three tax brackets.
Until recently A4A, whose members operate 90 percent of American passenger and cargo flights, accepted the tax under protest.
But in a statement released on Friday, it said the decision was taken to make a challenge after legal advice suggested the tax violated several long-standing international agreements, including the US-EU Open Skies Agreement.
A4A feel that passengers coming from the US to Germany already pay enough taxes, the statement said.
“Germany cannot arbitrarily close its budget gap on the backs of the U.S. airlines,” it said.
The organisation announced in the statement that they would be filing a detailed complaint with the German Fiscal Court within the next two months at the same time it urges a referral of the case to the German Federal Constitution Court.
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