Ryanair will continue its fight to block state aid being granted to national airlines in EU member states, announcing it will appeal a European Court decision that such schemes were not discriminatory.
Judges at the EU’s General Court in Luxembourg backed EU competition regulators who had allowed state aid under loosened rules. Ryanair asked EU bodies to examine whether France’s deferment of aeronautical taxes and Sweden’s loan guarantee for airlines.
Ryanair, who is one of Europe’s largest carriers, has pursued a legal campaign across Europe to stop the bailouts, arguing the state aid gives an unfair advantage to prestigious state carriers. It has filed 16 lawsuits against the Commission for allowing state aid on airlines such as Lufthansa, KLM, Austrian Airlines and TAP.
“This aid scheme is appropriate to remedy the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and does not constitute discrimination,” the court said.
The decision could be good news for Malta. Finance Minister Clyde Caruana recently revealed that Air Malta, the national airline, is losing €170,000 a day and would need an EU-backed state aid scheme to save the airline. Failure to do so, would see the airline close down in a matter of weeks.
Ryanair has said that it hopes the Court of Justice will overturn the controversial decision.
“A nationality condition in a state aid scheme is plainly incompatible with the single market.”
“During the COVID-19 pandemic over €30 billion in discriminatory state subsidies has been gifted to EU flag carriers and, if allowed to stand, this will distort the level playing field in EU aviation for decades to come, giving chronically inefficient national airlines a leg up on their efficient low-fare competitors,” Ryanair explained.
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