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Ryanair welcomes EU court ruling on Air France-KLM state aid

AIR NEWS BUSINESS WORLD

-Ryanair welcomed the EU General Court’s ruling that the €3.4 billion Covid-19 state aid granted by the Netherlands to Air France-KLM in 2020 was illegal.
This is the second time that the EU General Court has ruled that the aid package in question is illegal, after the Commission failed to correct the errors made in its original decision when it effectively reissued it in 2021, ignoring the Court’s first ruling in the case. Today’s ruling is also the fourth time in total that the Court has ruled that the Covid-19 state aid to the Air France-KLM group was illegal. Ryanair is now asking the European Commission to order the Netherlands to immediately recover this illegal multi-billion euro state aid package from Air France-KLM and to impose appropriate remedies to repair at least part of the damage to competition caused by this massive state bailout.

A Ryanair spokesman said:

“One of the EU’s greatest achievements is the creation of a true single market for air transport. The European Commission’s approval of Dutch state aid to Air France-KLM was contrary to fundamental principles of EU law, such as the principle of non-discrimination on the basis of nationality. Today’s decision confirms that the Commission must act as the guardian of a level playing field in air transport and cannot sign off on discriminatory state aid from national governments. The Court’s intervention is a triumph for fair competition and consumers across the EU. The EU Commission’s ‘flexible’ approach to state aid since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis has allowed Member States to issue open-ended cheques to inefficient zombie airlines in the name of fading national prestige.

During the Covid-19 pandemic over €40 billion in discriminatory state subsidies were given to EU flag carriers. The EU General Court has already ruled in other Covid-19 state aid cases that billions of euros in aid received by SAS, Lufthansa, Air France-KLM and certain Italian airlines was illegal.

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition has still not acted to enforce recovery of the illegal aid, nor has it imposed measures to remedy the competitive harm caused by the governments of Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France, Germany and Italy favouring their local airlines over other EU airlines in violation of EU law. Today’s decision underlines the need for the European Commission to act swiftly to recover these illegal state aid packages and to order remedies to repair at least part of the damage caused to competition.

Unadulterated competition eliminates inefficiencies and benefits consumers through low fares and choice. Unjustified subsidies, on the other hand, encourage inefficiency and will harm consumers for decades to come.”

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