Wednesday, July 23 12:07:03
EU state aid regulators have ordered Ryanair to pay back to France about E10 million in illegal state aid received for operating at three small regional airports.
The European 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.
The EU competition watchdog said Ryanair would have to pay back about 6.4 million euros related to aid received for operating at Nimes Airport, the subject of an Air France complaint.
Ryanair will also have to return E2.4 million in illegal aid connected to Pau Pyrenees Airport and about E868,000 related to Angouleme Airport.
In a statement today, Ryanair said it welcomed the EU Commission's confirmation that Ryanair's airport agreements at Niederrhein Airport comply with the State aid rules (Market Economy Investor Principle).
This finding is consistent with the EU Commission's and EU Court's previous rulings that Ryanair's airport agreements with Aarhus, Bratislava, Charleroi, Marseille, Berlin Schonefeld and Tampere airports also comply with EU State aid rules, the airline said.
Ryanair said it also noted the EU Commission's decisions concerning Pau (ceased operations in March 2011) and Angouleme (ceased operations in October 2009) airports, and Nimes airport where Ryanair currently operates 4 routes.
"All of Ryanair's airport arrangements comply with the EU State aid rules and Ryanair has therefore instructed its lawyers to appeal these rulings to the extent they erroneously allege otherwise," the Irish airline said.
Ryanair's Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs, Juliusz Komorek said: "Today's decisions confirm that Ryanair's airport agreements at Niederrhein Airport comply with the EU State aid rules (Market Economy Investor Principle). Following the closure of this case and the earlier six positive decisions at Aarhus, Bratislava, Charleroi, Marseille, Berlin Schonefeld and Tampere airports, we will immediately appeal the decisions in Pau, Angouleme and Nimes cases where the EU Commission mistakenly suggested that the airports' agreements with Ryanair did not fully comply with the EU State aid rules."
"Ryanair has to date carried 86.5m passengers at the 7 airports where our commercial arrangements have been confirmed by the EU Commission and the EU Court to comply with EU law, compared to just 3.4m passengers at the airports where the Commission today suggested that the airport agreements did not comply with State aid rules."