BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Budget airline Virgin Express said on Wednesday it would consider court action if it is unhappy with a ruling by the European Commission on alleged state aid to rival.
Ryanair is the subject of a Commission probe into whether the airline received unfair state aid at its Belgian hub of Charleroi, a city about 40 km south of Brussels.
Ryanair has rejected the idea it won unfair subsidies.
Virgin could appeal against the Commission`s final ruling at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.
“We will consider that very strongly,” Virgin Express Managing Director Neil Burrows told reporters.
The Commission is expected to rule on the Charleroi case in the next few weeks.
“I don`t see why Ryanair must be subsidized, it does not need it,” he added. Virgin Express has already written to the EU executive to complain against the alleged subsidies and ask for it to restore what it calls free and fair competition.
The EU has banned most state aid to airlines since the early 1990s to help create a more competitive, deregulated market in which European no-frills airlines like Ryanair and easyJet have thrived in recent years.
Ryanair has raised the hackles of longer-established airlines throughout Europe as it has bargained for good deals from regional airports that are prepared to spend money to attract the business and holiday traffic the airline can bring.
The airline pulled its London-to-Strasbourg service after a court banned a subsidy it said Ryanair was receiving from the chamber of commerce in Strasbourg.
Virgin Express is majority-owned by British entrepreneur Richard Branson`s Virgin empire.