Ryanair ordered to repay nearly €10m in illegal state aid

EC rules aid received for operating at regional French airports gave airline unfair advantage

Wed, Jul 23, 2014, 12:54

The European Commission has ordered Ryanair to repay nealry €10 million in illegal state aid it received from France for operating at three small regional airports.

The Commission said the French support, which consisted of contractual rebates and airport and marketing deals, gave the world’s biggest budget airline an unfair advantage.

Ryanair said it would appeal the “erroneous” decision. The EU competition watchdog said Ryanair would have to pay back about €6.4 million related to aid received for operating at Nimes Airport, the subject of an Air France complaint.

Ryanair will also have to return €2.4 million in aid connected to Pau Pyrenees Airport and about €868,000 related to Angouleme Airport.

The airline said in a statement that the airports in question had carried a total of 3.4 million passengers, compared to 86.5 million passengers at seven other airports where commercial arrangements had been questioned but ultimately approved.

Ryanair, whose success in securing lucrative deals from small regional airports was a key factor in its growth to becoming the largest international carrier in Europe, said the ruling would not impact its expansion plans.

The EU ruling also ordered Air France’s low cost subsidiary Transavia to pay back €400,000 in aid related to marketing and airport service deals at Pau Pyrenees Airport.

The Commission broadened its investigation into financial deals at Austria’s Klagenfurt Airport, saying these seemed to be excessively favourable to Ryanair. But it cleared state aid granted to Germany’s Dortmund, Leipzig/Halle and Niederrhein-Weeze airports as they complied with the rules.

Reuters

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