Ryanair responds to EU Commission probe

Ryanair condemned the European Commission, which announced investigations into Easyjet’s cost base at Berlin and Dortmund airports, and Ryanair’s costs base at Lubeck and Tampere airports, while at the same time continuing to ignore the blatant State Aid being doled out to Europe’s largest flag carriers including Air France, Alitalia, Lufthansa and Olympic.Ryanair pointed to the European Commission’s repeated failure to investigate massive State Aid as follows:

Air France enjoys a 50% discount on airport charges for domestic routes at French airports which amounts to unlawful State Aid of over €1bn over the last 7 years.

Lufthansa’s exclusive use of the second terminal at Munich Airport which caused the State owned Munich Airport to lose over €50m last year. These enormous losses being made by the State owned airport for the sole and exclusive benefit of Lufthansa prove conclusively that Lufthansa is not paying the full charges associated with the second terminal at Munich.

The European Commission has repeatedly ignored the billions of euro of State aid which are handed annually to Alitalia in the form of rescue and recovery plans.

The European Commission continues to ignore the annual bail out of the loss making Olympic Airlines by the Greek Government.
Commenting today Ryanair’s Spokesman, Peter Sherrard said:

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“Today’s announcement proves that the European Commission has a biased approach to State Aid investigations. It continues to ignore €billions of State Aid to flag carrier airlines in the form of discounted domestic charges, exclusive use of terminal facilities and annual bail outs to Alitalia and Olympic Airlines, yet at the same time the Commission is wasting time and resources investigating the cost base of small secondary airports such as Lubeck and Tampere, which without Ryanair would have no traffic at all, or the main airports of secondary cities such as Berlin and Dortmund, which would have far smaller traffic numbers were it not for the services provided by Easyjet.

“This latest development is further proof that this European Commission has given up on deregulating the European Air Travel market, and is intent on re-regulating that market at every hands turn. At a time when many of Europe’s flag carrier airlines are raising fares and levying fuel surcharges, Ryanair calls on the Commission to launch investigations of these massive State Aid subventions to Air France, Lufthansa, Alitalia and Olympic Airlines, instead of wasting time investigating the affairs of smaller secondary regional airports who are and should be free to continue to discount their charges in order to win new business from low fare airlines.

“What’s next from this European Commission? Perhaps they will investigate McDonalds for negotiating discounts with beef and cheese suppliers? Perhaps they will investigate Ikea for negotiating volume discounts with furniture suppliers? Who knows perhaps they will investigate Tesco for using its purchasing power to negotiate supplier discounts on behalf of its customers.

“Low fares airlines negotiate substantial discounts over the high published charges at many airports in secondary cities and secondary airports, precisely because those airports wish to develop new routes, traffic and business. This development has created competition to the high fare flag carrier airlines who are using their political power and influence to send the European Commission off on wild goose chases, whilst ignoring the real State Aid scandals which are the massive subventions which continue to be given annually to flag carrier airlines like Air France, Lufthansa, Alitalia and Olympic.

“This Commission is not interested in competition, it simply wants to protect the flag carrier airlines and penalise the low fares airlines who are negotiating discounts at secondary airports and passing on those discounts to the travelling public in the form of lower fares.

“It is noteworthy that this latest investigation comes just two weeks after the EU Commission blocked Ryanair’s takeover of Aer Lingus, when it had previously rubber stamped the much larger Air France takeover of KLM and the Lufthansa takeover of Swiss and Austrian. Clearly this Commission applies one rule to the flag carrier airlines and an entirely different rule to the low fares airlines. Sadly this Commission cannot be trusted to advance the cause of consumers, it is more interested in protecting the narrow self interest of flag carrier airlines”.
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