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In a stinging rebuke to one of Socialist Hollande’s flagship campaign promises, the constitutional council ruled Saturday that the way the highly contentious tax was designed was unconstitutional. It was intended to hit incomes exceeding $1.32 million.

The largely symbolic measure would have only hit a tiny number of taxpayers and brought in an estimated $132 million to $396 million — an insignificant amount in the context of France’s roughly $112 billion deficit.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault was quick to respond, saying in a statement following the decision the government would resubmit the measure to take the court’s concerns into account. The court’s ruling took issue not with the size of the tax, but with the way it discriminated between households depending on how incomes were distributed among its members. A household with two earners each making under $1.32 million would be exempt from the tax, while one with one earner making $1.58 million would have to pay.


Qatar Airways, Gulf Air win domestic licenses

JEDDAH — The Saudi aviation authority has awarded Qatar Airways and Bahrain’s Gulf Air licenses to operate domestic flights in the vast desert kingdom.

The national carriers of the two neighboring Gulf states will be the first foreign airlines to operate domestic flights in the oil-rich nation, competing mainly with the government-owned Saudia and budget carrier NAS.

“The best bids came from Gulf Air and its partners, and Qatar Airways,” the General Authority of Civil Aviation said in a statement late on Friday.

It said 14 companies had competed for the licenses, adding that the decision took into consideration the accumulated experience of the companies in air transport, as well as operational efficiency and financial solvency.

Saudi Arabia stretches over .85 million square miles of mainly desert covering most of the Arabian Peninsula, and has a population of more than 27 million, including around 8.5 million foreigners.

It has four international airports and 22 domestic airports.

From wire dispatches and staff reports