Ryanair has welcomed the European Court of First Instance (CFI) decision to dismiss the EU Commission’s 2004 Charleroi case which claimed that Ryanair’s low-cost agreement at Charleroi was a subsidy or was state aid.
The Irish carrier argues that the ruling proves that it did not receive any subsidy or state aid from Charleroi or the Walloon region, and is a vindication of Charleroi Airport, which has been transformed from an unused facility in 2001 into a growing profitable airport, with over 2m passengers annually, providing competition and choice to Brussels Zaventem Airport.
Ryanair today called on the European Commission to drop the eight other state aid cases that the Commission has brought against similar secondary airports in Alghero, Aarhus, Bratislava, Frankfurt Hahn, Hamburg Lubeck, Pau, Berlin Schonefeld and Tampere.
Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary said: “Ryanair is delighted to have today obtained justice in a four-year long case. Charleroi airport has been the model for how small regional and secondary airports around Europe can transform themselves from unused airfields into growing profitable international airports, which are providing regional growth, new jobs, lower fares, competition and choice for millions of European consumers.
“Charleroi Airport has proven over the past six years that their low cost model works. They have built a new low cost terminal, based on the success of their agreement with Ryanair, and now other airlines are serving Charleroi as a result. Charleroi airport has been profitable each year for the past six years, which disproves the Commission’s original claim that Charleroi would be loss making for the term of the Ryanair contract.
“Today’s decision is great news for Charleroi, competition, consumers and low cost airports across Europe. Ryanair now calls on the EU Commission to drop their other State Aid cases against similar regional and secondary airports (Alghero, Aarhus, Bratislava, Frankfurt Hahn, Hamburg Lubeck, Pau, Berlin Schonefeld and Tampere), most of which have been brought to the Commission by larger competitor airports who are trying to block competition and lower fares.