Ryanair has lodged a case in the European Court of First Instance against the European Commission’s failure to act on Ryanair’s complaint about €1 billion worth of State to Air France in the form of unlawful reduced domestic airport charges in France.
Ryanair has called on the Commission several times to investigate this obvious abuse of EU competition rules, but the Commission has repeatedly failed to do so.
Announcing the launch of these proceedings Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s CEO, said:
“This is just another example of the Commission’s uneven-handed application of the State aid rules. They apply one rule to flag carriers by ignoring blatant State aid to Air France, Alitalia, Olympic, Lufthansa among others, while at the same time wasting time and money investigating baseless complaints from flag carrier airlines against open market commercial deals at regional and secondary airports. Recent examples of this include investigations at Tampere airport in Finland and Alghero airport in Sardinia. These complaints were filed by flag carrier airlines operating at expensive hub airports, who would never fly to smaller airports and are only trying to prevent competition and consumer choice.
“On the other hand, the Commission refuses to act on legitimate complaints against serious violations of the State aid rules by National Governments to protect their flag carrier airlines. The French Government’s operation of massively discounted domestic airport fees in France - almost all of which supports Air France - amounts to approximately €1bn of illegal State aid to the benefit of Air France, yet the Commission has refused to do anything about this for the last 18 months! The Commission has previously outlawed differentiated domestic/intra EU airport charges in Finland, Portugal, the UK and Ireland, so why should France be any different?
“It appears that the Commission applies different rules for the high fare flag carrier airlines compared to low fares airlines. We are calling on the Commission to start promoting competition and stop protecting flag carrier airlines who continue to receive unlawful State aid.”