Carrier Says EU Failed To Investigate State Aid Complaints
Ryanair, Europe's largest low-fare airline, announced it will
sue the European Commission in the European Courts for failure
to take action on a number of state aid complaints involving Air
France, Lufthansa, Alitalia and Olympic Airways, which were
submitted to the Commission more than a year ago.
These complaints involved hundreds of millions of dollars in
illegal state aid being granted by the French, German, Italian and
Greek governments to subsidize their flag carrier airlines.
Although Ryanair has called on the Commission several times to
investigate these claims, the Commission has failed to do so, said
"This is another example of the Commission's twin track approach
to state aid. On one hand they refuse to take action against
serious violations of the state aid rules by national governments
to protect their flag carrier airlines like Air France, Lufthansa,
Alitalia and Olympic, while at the same time they launch bogus
investigations against small regional and secondary airports like
Charleroi. The foolishness of the Commission's Charleroi decision
is that Ryanair now actually has a lower cost base in Charleroi,"
said Ryanair's Head of Regulatory Affairs, Jim Callaghan.
Callaghan alleges the Commission has failed to take any action
against what he calls "blatant abuses" of the state aid rules,
including the French Government's discounting of domestic airport
fees as it pursues Malta for a similar discounting of its domestic
airport charges. Government aid to airports and airlines is also
As ANN reported, the EU ruled
in June to prohibit Ryanair from taking over Aer Lingus. Neelie
Kroes, European Commissioner for Competition Policy, told reporters
at a press conference such a deal would have limited competition as
the combined airlines would have controlled more than 80 percent of
all European flights to and from the Dublin Airport.
Kroes said the decision was made to "safeguard consumers" and
the Commission "does not prohibit takeovers lightly." Ryanair owns
25 percent of Aer Lingus.
appears as always that the Commission applies one rule for the high
fare flag carrier airlines and state owned primary airports, but a
different one for low cost airlines like Ryanair and the numerous
regional and secondary airports that are offering competition and
lower fares to the traveling public," said Callaghan.
"The European Commission is more concerned with protecting
inefficient flag carrier airlines and hub airports than it is with
actually promoting competition and the consumer interest."
"Ryanair is left with no alternative but to challenge the
Commission's failure to investigate these unlawful state aid abuses
in the European Courts. Ryanair is confident that the European
Court will take the Commission to task for their failure to fairly
enforce the state aid rules against national governments who
continue to protect their inefficient flag carrier airlines,"
"It is time that the European Commission stops this twin track
approach to enforcing the state aid rules. The same rules should be
fairly applied to all airlines, and an end put to the unlawful
state aid to the flag carriers".