DUBLIN TAKES CONTROL OF NORTHERN IRELAND SKIES - The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) is providing air traffic control services in airspace over Northern Ireland for the first time ever as part of a trial that sees responsibility for the area transferred to the agency from UK's air traffic control service NATS. The trial - which runs until September - is part of the wider Single European Sky Initiative being promoted by the EU, which aims to organise airspace into so-called 'functional airspace blocks' (FABs), writes the Irish Independent. They are created according to traffic flows rather than being based on national borders. The aim is to ensure an increasing amount of air traffic can be handled while cutting overall air traffic management and airline costs, and improving efficiency. The trial is the first ever to test new ways of delivering air traffic control services to airlines and gather information on efficiencies that could be gained through concept of 'dynamic sectorisation' - the tactical switching of air traffic services between providers.
MEMBER-OWNED GOLF CLUBS CAN CLAIM BACK GREEN FEES VAT - Golf clubs across Ireland are in line for a windfall as the Revenue Commissioners this week confirmed that many can rely on a recent European Court of Justice decision to claim back VAT paid on green fees over the past four years. The court found late last year that levying VAT when non-members pay green fees at member-owned clubs was not in line with EU law, writes the Irish Times. The case involving Bridport & West Dorset Golf Club in England has changed rules for affected golf courses in countries governed by the EU VAT Directive, including Ireland. In an “eBrief” on its website, Revenue says it “accepts” the ECJ decision means that green fees charged by member-owned clubs to non-members should be treated as exempt from VAT. This means such fees will not attract VAT, while “the legislation will be amended at the next available opportunity”, according to Revenue. Membership fees are already VAT-exempt. The tax authority also notes that claims can be made under the auspices of the ECJ decision for the past four years, thus potentially opening the door for a windfall to member-owned clubs. It points out, however, that it is still examining the implications of the ECJ judgment in relation to 2013 and earlier years.
GAMES INDUSTRY HEADING FOR CRASH FOR 'SAME REASONS AS 30 YEARS AGO' - The world games industry may have become overheated and be heading for a crash due to the proliferation of games across mobiles, tablets, PC and games consoles. The head of department of technology and flexible learning at LIT Tipperary, Seamus Hoyne, told attendees at LIT Tipperary’s annual Games Fleadh that the industry was facing the same problems that caused it to crash 30 years ago, writes the Irish Examiner. “The video game industry crashed 30 years ago this year because there were too many consoles on the market at that time. We are now verging on the same problem again because there are so many games, across so many platforms. There is huge optimism for game developing here because of the undisputed raw talent, but companies need to really stand out if they are to succeed in this very crowded space today,” he said. While there were warnings about the futureof the industry, other game developers said that the Government had failed completely to live up to the promises of the past. CEO of exGamers Studios, Stephen Byrne, said that the Ireland has failed to live up to the ambitions produced in the 2011 Forfas Action Plan.
HERBALIFE HIT BY US ‘PYRAMID SCHEME' PROBE - The US Federal Trade Commission has opened a formal investigation into Herbalife, the multi-level marketing company that hedge fund manager Bill Ackman has called a pyramid scheme, reports the Financial Times. Close government scrutiny of the Los Angeles-based group is the latest turn in a vicious public battle where rival billionaires have bet fortunes on the question of Herbalife’s legitimacy since Mr Ackman’s hedge fund, Pershing Square, unveiled a campaign to put the company out of business in December 2012. Herbalife sells nutritional shakes and supplements through and to a network of millions of independent distributors in more than 80 countries worldwide. The probe comes after a year in which consumer groups and members of Congress, in both houses, have echoed the call for the FTC to investigate. Herbalife said it “welcomes the inquiry given the tremendous amount of misinformation in the marketplace, and will co-operate fully with the FTC. We are confident that Herbalife is in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.” The company put out a statement confirming the civil investigation following an inquiry by the FT. The FTC acknowledged the investigation but had no further comment. Mr Ackman declined to comment.