Ryanair critical of state aid to European airlines
Ryanair has said it will appeal a European Union court ruling granting approval for state aid to carriers in France and Sweden.
The low-cost carrier said the cash favours Air France and SAS over rival airlines.
Ryanair argued, during the Covid-19 pandemic, over €30 billion in “discriminatory state subsidies” has been offered flag-carriers across the EU.
If this money is allowed to stand, it 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,” the carrier said.
A Ryanair spokesperson said: “One of the European Union’s greatest achievements is the creation of a true single market for air transport, underpinned by the principle of a common EU airline licence – one for each airline.
“A nationality condition in a state aid scheme is plainly incompatible with the single market.
“Ryanair is a truly European airline.
“We have no rich and powerful ‘home country’ to subsidise us in times of trouble.
“Nor do we want discriminatory aid.”
A French airport tax deferral and the Swedish loan guarantee were introduced at the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis with nationality conditions.
The French scheme was reserved for French registered airlines and the Swedish scheme to Swedish registered airlines, while excluding all other EU airlines, which were also damaged by Covid-19.
Ryanair appealed the European Commission’s approvals of these schemes to the EU General Court in May 2020.
Following rulings today, Ryanair will now refer these matters to the Court of Justice of the EU.
A statement added: “We hope that the Court of Justice will overturn the European Commission’s approvals of the French and Swedish schemes, to give airlines and consumers a glimmer of hope that national politicians obsessed with their flag carriers will be sent back to the drawing board and required to use state aid wisely to assist the recovery of traffic in the post-Covid world instead of bailing out their favoured airline at the expense of fair competition and consumers.
“Now is the time for the European Commission to stop caving in to national governments’ inefficient bail-out policies and start protecting the single market, Europe’s greatest asset for future economic recovery.”